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10. Former New England Patriots safety Je’Rod Cherry grew up in poverty, and knew all too well what being poor was like. So after his team won the 2002 Super Bowl, he decided to raffle off his Super Bowl ring and use a large portion of its $200,000 proceeds to help Asia Hope, which builds orphanages in Thialand, Cambodia and India. The money was used for building an orphanage that holds 2 dozen hill tribe children in northern Thailand.
9. Now Zaevion Dobson was never in the NFL… but he certainly could have been if his life wasn’t cut short at a young age. On December 17, 2015, Zaevion sheilded three girls from a random drive-by shooting in his neighborhood. A bullet struck him in the head and his life was gone. President Obama hailed him as a hero, saying “He gave his life to save theirs — an act of heroism a lot bigger than anything we should ever expect from a 15-year-old.” His family accepted on his behalf the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS.
8. Indianapolis Colts wide receiver TY Hilton hugged 7-year-old Ryder Dodson, and when Ryder told TY that he love him, TY responded by saying “I love you too.” It was an awesome moments captured on film. But what the football star didn’t know at the time was that Ryder was autistic. Ryder jumped up and down and screamed with excitement when he turned back around to his happy mom, Laura. A short time later, tight end Dwayne Allen also walked over to Ryder and gave him a hug. Mom Laura said she and her son will never forget the kindness those players showed to her son.
7. Chris Long is a defensive player for the Los Angeles Rams. But he was shocked when he went to East Africa and became very aware of the lack of clean drinking water. He was so moved by it, that he started the Chris Long Foundation and its signature initiative, Waterboys. Long is uniting athletes from across the league to raise money and awareness for clean water projects in East Africa.
6. Ma’ake Kemoeatu gave up his shining football career with the Baltimore Ravens after the 2012 season so he could donate a kidney to his brother, Chris, who played with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both had won Super Bowls, but Ma’ake felt it was much more important to save the life of his brother than to try for another Super Bowl ring. Chris’ condition was life-threatening when he received the kidney. Both men today are fine.
5. Would you believe that many of those rich NFL players go bankrupt within two years after getting out of the game? They do. So Ryan Broyles, a wide receiver with the Detroit Lions, wanted to be a financial role model for others. He makes what amounts to $900,000 a year, but he and his family live off a budget of $60,000 a year. By doing this, he said, he and his family will never have to worry about their financial future.
4. David Vobora retired from the NFL in 2012, and opened a performance training center in Dallas for elite athletes. But two years later, he founded the Adaptive Training Foundation, which is a nonprofit that helps amputees, paraplegics, quadriplegics and the physically impaired. Participants are put into a 9-week program customized for their fitness goals and specific disabilities. Vobora now travels the country speaking to people about tapping into their deeper potential.
3. In mid-2013, while Jonathan Willard was driving to from South Carolina to Nashville in what would be his rookie season with the Tennessee Titans, he spotted an SUV on the highway shooting flames from its rear. He quickly got the attention of the woman driver and had her pull over. Fire was starting to engulf the car as Jonathan and another motorist who pulled over quickly got the three children out of the car along with the woman and a dog. Within seconds of their escape, the car exploded. Willard stayed with members of the family long enough to make sure they were ok, and then he was back on the road to start a career with the Titans.
2. Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman is deaf, and is the only player in the league who is leagally deaf. A few years ago, after the Seahawks won their way to the Super Bowl, 9-year-old Riley Kovalcik wrote to him an told him that he inspired her, because she, too, was hearing-impaired. Riley’s dad tweeted the letter out and it started getting some attention, even Derrick’s. It was quickly set up that Derrick would meet Riley, along with her twin sister, Erin, on the Good Morning America show. When they met, they had pictures taken of themselves, then Derrick pulled out plenty of Super Bowl tickets for the entire family.
1. Pat Tillman was with the Arizona Cardinals when the 9-11 attacks occurred. In 2002, he turned down a contract $3.6 million over three years to enlist in the U.S. Army, and was assigned with the 2nd Ranger Battalion and deployed to Afghanistan. Two years later, he was reported to have been killed by the enemy. A further investigation revealed his death was caused by friendly fire. A short time after his death, the Pat Tillman Foundation was formed. It’s purpose is to help veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships.
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