By Teresa Varley
Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton was the toast of the town in Galveston when he was honored at a dinner and parade and had his high school jersey retired.
The celebration kicked off with the dinner, which raised money for Hurricane Ike relief. Galveston was hit hard by the hurricane last year and Hampton wanted to lend a helping hand to help the community recover.
Several of Hampton's current teammates, including linebacker James Farrior and fellow Texas product Limas Sweed, as well as Nate Washington who recently signed with the Tennessee Titans were in attendance to help honor him. Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis and defensive line coach John Mitchell both spoke at the dinner, sharing fun stories about Hampton.
"Casey always has a smile on his face and is willing to do what he can for other people," said Mitchell. "He wants to help people. To have that affair right there in Galveston and try to raise money and help people get back on their feet from the devastation they have had down there speaks volumes. Casey doesn't just want to give back, he does that. He goes beyond giving back."
It's not the first time that Hampton has given back to Galveston, but much of the time it goes unheralded, because that is just the way that he wants it.
"Casey doesn't want the spotlight to be on him," said Mitchell. "That's the way he is. If you have a good heart and want to do things, the spotlight doesn't have to be on you. He is a great guy."
On Saturday Hampton couldn't escape the spotlight when he took part in a parade through Galveston, ending up at Spoor Field at Ball High where he had his #63 Ball High jersey retired, the only football player in school history to receive such an honor.
"A lot of great guys came through Galveston Ball and played," said Hampton. "It's a big honor for me to be the first one to get my jersey retired. It's kind of like something you never really think of. There were a lot of guys before me that have done a whole lot and played in the NFL and had great careers and didn't have this opportunity that I have today to get my jersey retired."
Hampton was a two-time district defensive MVP for Ball High and won first-team all-state honors as a senior.
"Who would have ever thought a guy that grew up on the north side of Broadway from Parkland would ever be in this position I am today," said Hampton. "I am very blessed, and I have a lot of people to thank for that."
Hampton hopes he is now an inspiration to kids in his hometown, including those wearing his Steelers jersey at the event.
"I try to do the right thing and do things the right way," said Hampton. "I try to show the kids what to do. When I was growing up, there weren't a lot of role models for me, but the ones I did have really helped.
"That's what I try to tell these kids. There are a lot of negative people out here, but there are also a lot of positives ones that can help you be a better person."