Devonta Freeman Gives Back On Same Miami Field That Gave Him His Chance
The awestruck look on the face of the young boy told the story.
As Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman offered instruction to a group at his free football/cheerleading camp, a boy decked in a sleeveless Freeman Foundation T-shirt gazed at Freeman with eyes bulging and mouth wide open, as if his favorite superhero stood a few feet in front of him.
The boy’s reaction was the same giddy feeling Freeman desperately wanted to experience as a child growing up in the tough Pork n’ Beans projects of Miami. But none of his favorite athletes back then ever hosted such an event.
That was all the more reason for Freeman to come back to Charles Hadley Park Saturday to interact with 540 campers, cheerleaders included. It was the same park where he excelled in football as a youth playing for the Liberty City Optimist Warriors.
“It means a lot, just to give back,” Freeman said. “It’s a good thing to see smiles on the faces of the parents and the kids. I think it’s important because we motivate so many kids and kids get to come out and see us compete.
“At this same park coming up, we didn’t have nobody to throw camps. I was looking up to a lot of guys. I won’t name them. I wondered why they didn’t do those camps. Knowing what I know now, guys get busy. Guys travel. Guys have endorsements they have to handle. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t take much. It takes half a day. I’m just thankful that I have the opportunity to work with these kids.”
Saturday’s camp evolved into a star-studded event before all was said and done. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, both Miami natives, dropped by to show support. So did retired four-time Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James, who starred for the Miami Hurricanes before shining with the Indianapolis Colts. Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David, Freeman’s NFC South rival, popped in for a few.