Will Gay looked around the room, filled with women and children enjoying a holiday dinner he provided, smiling despite their circumstances. And what he saw was a little bit of him.
Gay, more than anyone, understands what those at the Women's Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh, a shelter that serves women and children affected by the horror that is domestic violence, are going through.
"It feels like home, like family to me," said Gay. "It's a dinner, but it's bigger because I get to interact and see the smiles and they get to see the smile on my face. They know I truly care and went through the same situation. It's fun to be around them."
Gay experienced the pain domestic violence brings when he was just eight years old and his mother, Carolyn Hall, tried to escape an abusive relationship she was in with his stepfather. When she tried to leave the relationship, his stepfather shot and killed her and then shot himself.
"I tell them my story on a more personal note, other than them hearing it from what they read on the internet or see on television," said Gay. "We sit down and talk, share ideas and emotions. I feel comfortable with them, they feel comfortable with me."
In addition to the dinner Gay also provided gifts for all of the women and children and then signed autographs afterwards along with teammates Ike Taylor and Shamarko Thomas.
"To see them smiling, even though they understand that isn't their home where they are, they aren't sure where they will be staying, but to see them still smiling and the holiday spirit still in them, that's what you live for," said Gay. "It's a good thing they came somewhere to find help. I want them to know they are heroes."
And Gay is a hero as well.