The Early Years
Born James Arthur Monk in White Plains, New York, on December 5, 1957, he learned early on the value of family and religion. "I really enjoyed my childhood," Monk told Sports Illustrated. "We didn't have a lot of money, but enough to be happy with - to be clothed and with a roof over our heads. I can never remember want or struggle. I mean, we never had a color TV but we had a car, and there was always food on the table." Raised by hard working parents, Monk's father, a welder, was also a first cousin of jazz great Thelonious Monk and as a child Art was encouraged to pursue music. His natural
ability was surpassed only by his passion for sports and in particular football. His high school football coach saw his potential despite a lack of production on the field and recommended him to visiting scouts. With good grades and the support of his coach, Monk won a full scholarship to Syracuse University.
During his first year at Syracuse, Monk struggled again on the field. "I couldn't catch a cold," Monk said of his freshman season at Syracuse. "I don't know why. It was just a disaster. I remember practices where they'd throw the ball to me and it would hit my hands and I couldn't catch it. I knew I was better than that. I got really depressed and down on myself. And I just made up my mind that this wasn't going to happen again." His determination, however, forced him to develop a strict training regiment that helped him become one of the best pass receivers in college football by his senior year. His play caught the attention of one of his childhood heroes, Washington Redskins' scout, Charley Taylor. To his surprise, Monk was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft by Washington, where he began a long and productive career.