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Brown spreading some holiday joy

Antonio Brown easily could have spent Tuesday evening at home, kicked back, relaxing and recovering from a lower leg injury suffered against the Patriots on Sunday that has him ruled out for this week's game against the Houston Texans on Christmas Day.

Instead, he was doing his part to make sure the holidays are special for youth in the Pittsburgh area.

Brown hosted a 'Win the Season' shopping spree at Champs Sporting Goods at Ross Park Mall for 84 students selected by the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, all students from Holy Family Academy.  Each of them were given a $200 gift card thanks to Brown's Live Your Vision Foundation and the retailer.

Antonio Brown took kids from the Holy Family Academy holiday shopping.

"The fact that he is staying true to a commitment that he had to do this, even in the face of injury, shows that he is an amazing role model to our students," said Lisa Abel-Palmieri, Head of School and Chief Learning Officer for Holy Family. "He showed resilience and servant leadership, two of the Holy Family Academy mindsets we seek to build in students."

Brown wasn't deterred at all by his injury when it came to spreading joy. The smile on his face was ever-present, and it was hard to tell who was having more fun, him or the students.

"It's all about how you handle adversity," said Brown. "If you play the game long enough you will experience adversity. You have to keep the right mentality. You have to hold true to your word. I made a commitment to the kids.

"I could have not been here, but I wanted to be here and share the experience and be hands on. It's not the end of the world. I am still so blessed."  

The kids not only bought stuff for themselves, but also for their siblings, sharing the holiday spirit with others.

"It's a great event, giving back for the holidays, bringing the kids out for a shopping spree before Christmas," said Brown. "I made a commitment, not only to myself but to the kids for a great cause. It is always special. It's a great event to give the kids an opportunity to buy themselves something for Christmas."

From trying on shoes, and jackets, to hoodies and hats, the students definitely enjoyed every minute of the evening, but the most important part was spending time with Brown and him showing that he cares.

"Seeing a person like Antonio take the time to meet with them and reward them for working hard, it's special," said Abel-Palmieri. "They have a lot more barriers than the typical student, but they show up for school, made honor role, and many are athletes. They are seeking to be leaders, young leaders in general. They come from neighborhoods all over the city. We know the way change will happen in those neighborhoods is youth growing as leaders. We are trying to help students from distressed neighborhoods with opportunities not only to bridge the education to employment skills gap in the Pittsburgh region, but to help change their lives and provide access and opportunity. I would say in terms of the shopping trip, whenever you are trying to show a professional polished image, you want to feel like you are dressed well and appropriate. What he is able to do is help our students feel and look good to match the effort they put into their grades and internship programs."

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