Seventeen years ago, New England Patriot quarterback walked the halls of in San Mateo as a "wide-eyed senior" with his whole life in front of him.
On Thursday night, before a crowd of 800 at Serra High's Fund-A-Dream Scholarship Benefit, Brady told Serra alumni and students to follow their dreams and take advantage of every opportunity.
Brady said he was grateful for the support from his family and friends, and said he was glad to be back at the place where his career began.
"I've received so much support from this community," he said. "It means so much to be able to call Serra home."
While on the plane to Indianapolis to compete in his fifth Superbowl game, Brady said he reflected on his past and what he's done to reach this point in his career.
He thanked numerous coaches and teachers, including his former coach and mentor Tom Martinez, who passed away Tuesday.
"He taught me how to throw a football when I was 12 years old," Brady said. "His spirit is here with us all the time."
Brady said his four years at Serra taught him how to be a team player, and to never give up on his goals.
In fact, he said, he didn't even make it as a quarterback his freshman year.
"I played second string," he said to laughter from the audience.
"But," he added, "I was grateful to play."
During one of his freshman games, Brady said he was actually put into the game.
As Brady sauntered onto the field, he said his coach yelled, "Brady, you look like you're running in slow motion!"
Clearly, his running speed has improved.
"I've learned to embrace every hardship," Brady said. "Lord knows, I make plenty of mistakes."
Brady was the keynote speaker at the fundraiser, which has raised $850,000 for the scholarship program since the program began in 2005.
Guests were treated to a dinner of braised short ribs and butter poached shrimp, as well as asparagas, and assorted desserts and beverages.
Brady's speech was followed by a live auction, with items including autographed Tom Brady memorabilia.
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