A few hours before the start of the 2021 NFL draft, former Alabama star Najee Harris visited a homeless shelter, Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP), as they hosted a draft watch party in his honor.
It was a homecoming of sorts for the Steelers’ No. 24 pick, as Harris, his four siblings and his parents lived in that shelter for several years growing up.
“Just to see him as a grown man with this kind of opportunity for him today and to know that he lived in this shelter among many other places their family had to move around and lives as a homeless man just speaks to [the thought that] anything is possible,” Kathleen Sullivan, executive director of the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, told ABC 7 News.
Whatever team drafts Alabama's Najee Harris is getting a special person. Today he threw a draft party for kids at the homeless shelter where he lived for several years growing up. He told me it was emotional the first time he went back to visit. @kron4news #NFLDraft #RollTide pic.twitter.com/JadBIFh4pd
— Kylen Mills (@KylenMills) April 30, 2021
Harris wasn’t just there to say hello, though. He also brought food for the current residents. He told reporters, “There was a time I needed a helping hand. They gave us an opportunity to get back on our feet. So it is my job to give back.”
Returning brought back a lot of stirring memories for Harris and his family. He was in middle school when they stayed at GRIP before his family moved to Antioch.
“It was really emotional for my mom,” Harris said. “Almost as if she was crying, in a way, because we have a lot of memories here. That was a time in my life when it was really low.”
Harris went on to be one of Alabama’s most explosive players, rushing for 1,224 yards and averaging 5.9 yards a carry as a junior in 2019. Despite looking NFL ready, he returned to the Crimson Tide as they battled for another national championship. He went on to win the Doak Walker Award as the country’s top back last season, rushing for 1,466 yards.