Q&A with Torry Holt: Former NFL Star and NCSU Student

Former NFL Star and NC State student talks about his career outside of football and his life in North Carolina
written by Addie Ladner

Torry Holt is many things, including a retired successful NFL player, a Wolfpack alum, a family man, a philanthropist and businessman. Below we learn why he’s one of the State’s most loyal residents. 

Courtesy of Holt Brothers Construction

Hi Torry! It’s nice to meet you. My husband’s pretty envious of this interview and he had all sorts of questions he wanted me to ask you—but I’ll spare you and get straight to it. Where’s your favorite place to watch football or sports in general?

Haha. At home. If I do go somewhere, it would probably be Jimmy Vs. That’s a good place. Leon Cox, the manager there, normally sets it out nicely for us.

Do you have a favorite place to maybe play sports for fun or do something athletic?

I swim and bike a lot. We have some great trails on the Greenway near us. I also get out and train with my girls, they play soccer here in Raleigh.

What about a favorite place to go to as a family? 

Cowfish, in North Hills. City Market Sushi, near Moore Square.

Favorite sports teams? 

I still follow the WolfPack, the Hurricanes, the CourageI especially enjoy watching them with my girls, who also play soccer. They’re world champions and incredible. I like all sports.

What’s your favorite place (or places) downtown? 

The Holt Bros office. I spend a lot of time there. Outside of that, I’d say, I like going to the Dix Park area and just walking around.

Do you have a favorite hidden gem? 

Umstead State Park-I like to go out there and relax.

Chargrill or Snoopy’s? 

Chargrill. Their burgers separate them.

Favorite lunch spot? 

My brother and I like to visit Manhattan Cafe and Beasley’s Chicken and Honey.

If someone were to ask you as a child in Gibsonville NC, what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would you have said?

A professional athlete. I just wanted to play something sports-wise and I wanted to play professionally. The second choice would have been in entertainment. Maybe in music, an actor or in dance.

What was your childhood in North Carolina like?

It was awesome! Lots of kids, friends and cousins and tons of hours of being outside. 

Any favorite memories at NCSU? 

Beating Florida State my senior year and then the big celebration on the field after, people were leaving their homes coming to NCSU to join. It was amazing. 

What about non-football related? 

When we used to have our Pan-Afrikan festival at NC State with tons of activities, fashion shows, parties, it was incredible.

Courtesy of Holt Brothers Construction

If you hadn’t played football what other sports would you have played? 

Basketball and Baseball.

You’ve traveled all over the world with a tremendously successful career in the NFL and found yourself back in NC, where you’re truly part of the community. Was that always the plan?

I never left NC. I always had a home here and always wanted to stay. I’m a hometown kid. We need to be involved. This is where my brother and I live and are raising our kids. Be the change you want to see, right? I’ve always felt like you don’t have to leave home to do well, we live and die by that. We are very conscious of that when we wake up. How can we make the Triangle better? How can we make the state better? We are doing it right here where we were born and raised. People in NC here know me, they’ve lived my career out, they’re connected. NC has always been home.

What do you love most about living in North Carolina?

The seasons. We have all the seasons here. And being in Raleigh, we can go to the mountains and beach in just a few hours. I also love all of the colleges and universities.

How do you handle autograph and photo requests being out in the community so much?

I don’t take those moments for granted. It’s an opportunity for me to meet new people and network with folks. I’m aware of my place in society and my impact from my previous profession. I’m very protective of it, too. If I’m out with my family and it’s not appropriate, I ask if we can try another time but for the most part, I’m pretty open. 

You’ve said learning is a lifelong profession, how do you practice that?

I was at a parent-teacher conference when I saw that and thought it was great. I’m 43 years old and still learning- we have a construction business, a foundation, I’m always learning how to do those things well. Regardless of what you are doing, there’s always room to learn and to get better.

I’m familiar with the inspiration behind your foundation and football camps, which I think is wonderful. Can you talk about Holt Brothers Construction a little bit and the motivation behind that? Is that field something you always wanted to be in? 

When my brother and I retired, we wanted to do something outside of the game of football. Once the market had collapsed in 2008, there weren’t a lot of minority contractors, we thought it was an opportunity to fill that lane. The opportunities have played out in our favor to get into the business and prove ourselves, to have some sustainability. Eight years later, we’ve had so much great encouragement and are still in the business. I get a kick out of the direct impact we’re making on the infrastructure.

What projects have you been involved in that people might not realize?

Raleigh Union Station, The Central Communication Center, Reynolds Coliseum, the Market + Exchange Plaza 

Any Holt Brothers Foundation fundraisers you’d like to share with our readers coming up?

We have our Holt Brothers Foundation Flag Football Tournament coming up in May. We host 20 corporations that play. It’s a great team-building exercise we felt would be a good opportunity for companies to get involved with the foundation, and for their employees to interact in a fun-filled way.

Will you and your brother play? 

We don’t play but we coach! And we bring in former colleagues to help too.

Finally, the best bit of wisdom you’ve ever received, practiced and shared?

This came from the NFL Players association that I like:“If you have the power to make someone happy, do it! The world needs more of that.” And another one is that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.

Words to live by. Thank you Torry!

P.S. More Torry Holt and his brother this way.