LEWISTON — Before Tom Caron was a NESN sports broadcaster covering the Boston Red Sox and Bruins, he was a local student.

“I was you,” Caron said to 720 Lewiston Middle School students Thursday. “I was in Lewiston, Maine, the youngest of five kids. My dad never went to college. We didn’t have a lot of money. I didn’t have any more advantage than any other kid had.”

If there was a time machine and they could see him in middle school, “I was just another kid,” he said.

But Caron had parents, teachers, coaches and mentors who helped him. He accepted their help.

Caron was this year’s Steps To Real-Life Transitions speaker, an initiative funded by Peter Geiger and the Lewiston Education Fund. Each year, a successful Lewiston High School graduate is invited to speak to middle school students. Caron graduated from Lewiston High School in 1982.

Today, he wears a World Series championship ring, spends summer afternoons analyzing games in Fenway Park and talks to David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. He has a viewing public of about 4 million homes.

It won’t be long before they’re in high school, Caron said to the students. How they do in school will make a difference in where they go to college and what they do afterward.

“Make the right choices,” Caron told students. “If you follow your passion and find something you love to do, you will never have to work a day in your life. By that, I mean when you go to your job, it’s not work.”

When he was in high school, he realized he wasn’t going to be the next LeBron James or Patrick Kane.

“I’m 5 foot nothing,” Caron said.

He found a way to take something he loved — sports — and make it a career.

He started thinking about being a sports writer or broadcaster. In high school, he worked on the school newspaper. At St. Michael’s College in Vermont, he majored in journalism and got involved in the newspaper and radio station on campus, which led to a television station internship.

“I’ve been working in television ever since I got out of college,” Caron said.

He told students they could find careers in something they love. If they love music, maybe they won’t be superstars, “but think about how many jobs and careers are around the people singing: producers, lighting people, recording people, other musicians.”

All kinds of jobs exist for people who love animals, cooking, computers, science and math.

“Find a way to make a living out of it,” he said.

Caron encouraged the students to find mentors they trust when they get to high school — teachers or coaches — and to seek help when they have trouble, questions, concerns.

“There are amazing resources all around you,” he said.

He urged students to every now and then put down their phones for 30 minutes and talk to someone or walk the dog, without taking the phone along.

“Be in the moment a little more often,” he said.

Putting down the phone will allow students to better focus on what they’re doing — homework or real conversations. They’ll do better and get more out of it, he said.

In the question-and-answer portion of the talk, student Evan Williams said Caron has to know his sports, but how much math and reading does he need?

“Can I tell you guys a secret?” Caron said. “I hated math! I wasn’t any good at it. I struggled at it. I knew I was going to be a big league star, so why did I need math?”

But as a sports broadcaster, he said he uses math every day to figure out earned run averages, batting averages, power play percentages.

“I’m not bad in math anymore, but I wish I’d worked a little harder in math when I was your age,” he said.

There’s no subject they won’t need, Caron coached. “It all matters in the end. You’re going to use it all.”

Having a good vocabulary will help them in whatever they do, he said.

“When you put down that phone for 30 minutes, try to do some writing,” he said to students’ groans and laughter.

Finally, he encouraged students not to be afraid to fail. Being nervous can make them work harder for a test, an interview, a college application.

“Hard work will overcome skill every time,” he said. “Be over prepared in everything you do.”

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