Linebacker Larry Foote understands the struggles young men go through, especially those growing up in the inner city like he did. He knows the temptations many of them face on a daily basis in their neighborhoods, temptations he faced himself growing up in Detroit.
Since coming into the NFL, Foote has always reached out to youth, providing guidance like others did for him. On Tuesday night, he went one step further, making the holidays special for a group of 50 young men, ranging in age from 12-18, through YouthPlaces.
"This is huge. A lot of these kids wouldn't have Christmas if it wasn't for things like this," said Reggie Smith, Associate Director of YouthPlaces. "Plus he is giving his time. They appreciate that. A lot of them don't have a father figure in their lives and see nothing but negativity in their neighborhoods. For someone to step out like this is big."
Foote provided dinner for the group, selected from 10 YouthPlaces sites, as well as Nike shoes and apparel for all of them.
"I know those kids need a lot of positive messages," said Foote. "I realize in some of these environments the message they get all day, every day. What a great time to just share something with them, hang out and have a good evening.
"I thank God I have the means to give. If you want to make an impact you have to give up your time and they have to know that you care. It's the ultimate. When you do it you get way more from it than they are going to get. When you do stuff for people, you see the look on their face, it's priceless. I get more from it than they get."
Foote purchased all of the shoes and clothing, and also provided clothing and accessories that his wife Jonelle distributed at Gwen's Girls the night before. For him, it's a chance to give back to those who grew up in the same types of neighborhood, the same environment that he did.
"I think that makes the world of difference," said Smith. "He can relate to some of their issues. They know he came from the same place they came from. It's big for them to hear his story."