Josh Hicks, 32, is not your typical football trainer. The man responsible for getting star Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott into shape this offseason spent two years in federal prison.
An unconventional personal trainer, Hicks is known for his profanity-laced motivational speeches and his ability to get the most out of NFL stars.
"If they messin' up, I'm let 'em know they messin' up," Hicks told WFAA news in Dallas. "If it’s trash, I'm let 'em know it’s trash.”
Josh Hicks’ star-studded training roster
Hicks trains not only Ezekiel Elliott but also fellow NFL star running back Melvin Gordon of the Denver Broncos and Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette.
He has also trained past and current Cowboys, including Tony Pollard, Trevon Diggs, Tavon Austin, Maliek Collins and Taco Charlton.
Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott himself swears by Hicks methods.
"He's a great coach," Elliott said. "He demands excellence out of all his guys."
How did Josh Hicks go from prison to training NFL stars?
Hicks was a star football player from a young age and was even coached by the great Deion Sanders during high school.
As his football career started to flourish, so did his drug use.
"I started smoking my junior year of high school," Hicks recalls.
Just a week before his high school graduation, Hicks was arrested for gun possession. After his arrest, Hicks moved north to the Milford Academy in New Berlin, N.Y., where he starred as a running back. This led to a half scholarship at Purdue University.
"When I got to Purdue, I wasn’t going to class from the moment I stepped on campus," Hicks said. "Bro, I used to smoke weed before going to practice. Literally walking to practice.”
Hicks said he would smoke multiple times a day and found himself quickly kicked off the Purdue football team.
When he returned to Dallas without a purpose, he soon turned to a life of crime. By 24, Hicks had been arrested five times. His last arrest was for armed robbery in Dallas. Hicks pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison.
“Going to prison was really like a blessing in disguise because if I didn’t go, I would probably be doing the same thing I was doing," Hicks said. "I probably wouldn’t be here. Because, when I tell you it got bad, it got bad.”
Hicks went to prison in January 2013. He was released in July 2015 on good behavior. When he left prison, Hicks was determined to start a new life.
"You can't just be in [prison] living day-for-day," Josh notes. "You have to be in there putting together a plan for when you get out.”
The 32-year-old found his calling as a hard-nosed football trainer. Hicks wakes up at 4:00 am every day and is at the gym working out by 5:00 am.
Josh Hicks says he "doesn't care who you are or what you've done" when it comes to training.
"I don’t care who you are, what your name is or what’s behind it. When you come train with me, my name's behind it now," Hicks said.
"I think it shows his character to go through that type of adversity and make what he’s made out of it," Ezekiel Elliott said. "He’s only getting started. I know for him, with his work ethic and his personality, the sky’s the limit.”