Alabama football star Najee Harris gives back to his former homeless community

Paying it forward is a big thing in the homeless world. Those who have dealt with homelessness and come out better, like to give back to those who have helped them survive those trying times.

Najee Harris became a star running back at the University of Alabama. Last season he rushed for close to fifteen hundred yards and added forty-three receptions for more than another four hundred yards. He led the nation with thirty touchdowns. That gave him a total of fifty-seven scores for his career, making him the Crimson Tides’s all-time leader in touchdowns. Najee Harris was a unanimous first-team All-American and one of the major reasons for Alabama’s undefeated and national championship season.

Last week, Harris was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round, with the twenty-fourth overall pick in the NFL draft. He celebrated by throwing a party. While that doesn’t sound so unusual, the setting where the party was held is.

Najee Harris grew up in the Bay area of Northern California. His family struggled with finances and he moved eight to ten times before finishing high school. One of those moves was to the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program homeless shelter, where he lived with his parents and four older siblings.

While many of the NFL’s first-round draft choices went to Cleveland to celebrate their new career and others decided to be at home with their families, Najee Harris went back to the homeless shelter in Richmond, California. He threw a draft party for the children currently living in the facility. There were pizza, chicken and football decorations.

In an interview with KRON 4’s Kylen Mills, Harris explained:

“It was really emotional for my mom. Almost as if she was crying in a way. We have a lot of memories here. That was a time in our life when we were really low at a point. It brought back a lot of memories of what we was going through at the time, for me too. When I walked up over there where I used to play, it brought back a lot of memories. It was an emotional thing for us. Just doing this really makes me and my family feel a lot more better and just giving appreciation and everything.”

Like many other athletes who have been in similar situations, Najee Harris didn’t forget his roots. What he went through, made him stronger. He’s a role model for the other children living in that facility. They see him and think if it happened for him, it can happen for me.

This is another piece in the ongoing series FACES OF HOMELESSNESS

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