Peter Gonzalez, a standout football player at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, won the inaugural NFL Latino Youth Honors.
All 32 teams nominated a local youth to represent their team, and Gonzalez was the Steelers nominee, and then the finalist who represented the AFC North.
"The impact football has had on my life, it goes well beyond the field," said Gonzalez. "From the teammates and friends that I've made, to the coaches and mentors I've had in my life, all of them have really culminated into making me the man I am today, and that's something I can never repay.
"I'm always grateful for the connections I've made to the game of football."
The award is a part of a joint effort between the NFL and Hispanic Heritage Foundation, who have partnered to celebrate and recognize Hispanic and Latino excellence in and around the NFL community. This season, both organizations are selecting and honoring outstanding Latino youth football players throughout the League. The program aims to highlight Latino excellence, while simultaneously putting a focus on the next generation of football.
"The NFL is proud to again join forces with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation in the launch of this year's 'NFL Latino Youth Honors,' where Latino students and their inspiring stories will motivate the next generation of fans and athletes of this great sport," said Marissa Solis, NFL Senior VP/Global Brand & Consumer Marketing at the time of the launch. "This initiative underscores the league's commitment to fostering excellence, nurturing the next generation of football players and fans, and recognizing the outstanding contributions of Latino youth within the NFL community and beyond."
Gonzalez, who is of Cuban and Honduran ancestry, is a senior at Pittsburgh's Central Catholic High School, where he was a star wide receiver who was named All-WPIAL and All-State. Gonzalez is also recognized as one of the top 100 wide receivers in the nation for the Class of 2024. He also stands out in the classroom with a 4.2 GPA.
He is no stranger to the Steelers, as his father Pete Gonzalez was a backup quarterback in 1998-99, after his days at the University of Pittsburgh.
"My heritage comes from my dad. He's a Cuban Honduran American. And it means a lot to have that last name I got," said Gonzalez. "He grew up in Miami, Florida. That whole side of my family is Hispanic."
It was his father who introduced him to football, a game he immediately fell in love with.
"My first exposure to football was my dad," said Gonzalez. "He played at the University of Pittsburgh and for the Steelers for a little bit. And ever since then, I fell in love with the game. I didn't start playing until I was a little bit older, but ever since I started playing, I never looked back.
"It's been football every weekend since I can remember watching the Steelers games on Sundays and the Pitt games on Saturdays. Growing up with football has really shaped who I am today, the competitive nature and the lessons you learn from it. So, I'm very grateful for growing up in a football family."