RB LaDainian Tomlinson on NFL career: I wanted to be Walter Payton

For Class of 2017 Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson, football has always been his life.

"I fell in love with football with my dad," LT said during a conference call with reporters on Thursday, "He would always find the [Chicago] Bears on TV, and seeing Walter Payton play, I wanted to be him, be a running back."

Not to mention, LT grew up in Waco, Texas, and played football atTCU a place where 'football is religion.' Being surrounded by great football talent in Texas at a young age, Tomlinson knew he wanted to be an NFL star, but one moment in particular changed his football career pathforever.

At 12-years-old, LT went to a football camp in Texas, a camp that had a special guest coach: Then-Cowboys running back and now fellow Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith.

We are 21 days away from @LT_21 and the rest of the #PFHOF17 Class from being Enshrined in Canton on 8/5! pic.twitter.com/TJaoKioGib

— Pro Football HOF (@ProFootballHOF) July 15, 2017

"It changed my life," LT said about meeting Smith, "Being there in front of him, really getting to meet him, it showed me that he was a real person."

What Tomlinsonsaw in Smith was a tangible example to chase, and that's what LT's advice is for young players:

"Find a great example you can follow after. Dream about it, love the game, and work every single day for it."

After a prolific 11-season NFL career, setting records in rushing, touchdowns, and winning MVP, Tomlinson will be eternalized in the football Hall of Fame.

The moment @LT_21 found out he was a Hall of Famer… pic.twitter.com/69gS4wLEDP

— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) February 7, 2017

"It was surreal. Raw emotion, jubilation, all that stuff," Tomlinson said of getting the official bid to the HOF.

He was nervous, though, when the call didn't come at the right time:

"The wait was so long I wasn't sure I got in, maybe I didn't make it."

LaDainian Tomlinson getting measured for his bust.

Chills. #PFHOF17 pic.twitter.com/ZH4nmIqi7B

— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) February 7, 2017

Now working in the front office for the Los Angeles Chargers, Tomlinson doesn't see a conflict in his time as a San Diego Charger:

"To me, its always been about the lightning bolt."