How many people promise to do something but never make good on their pledge? We’re guessing lots. But NFLer Darrius Heyward-Bey isn’t one of them.
Back when Heyward-Bey was a senior at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Maryland, he made a thoughtful promise to Mickey Deegan, the school’s athletic director. “We were on the sidelines, and Darrius asked me why we didn’t have lights in the stadium,” Deegan said in a blog post on the college-preparatory school’s website. “When I told him lights were expensive and it would take a very generous gift to make that happen, he put his arm around my shoulders and said, ‘When I go pro I’m going to buy you some lights…because night games are what high school football is all about.’”
Well, the young man certainly made it and now he’s paying it forward. After playing college football for the University of Maryland, Heyward-Bey was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2009. Currently, he’s a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Making good on his promise, the entire McDonogh School community will experience the real-life thrill of Friday night lights starting next fall — and maybe even nurture a path for the school’s current football players to make it big.
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“Young players dream of playing under the lights, but the reality is that 95 percent of athletes don’t play after high school,” 27-year-old Heyward-Bey told the school. “I’m glad McDonogh football players will now have that opportunity.”
The school says the move will certainly bring the community together and raise school spirit to another level.
The Maryland-born athlete added that his gesture is his way of showing appreciation to the place he came from. “Giving back is showing that you appreciate where you come from, and McDonogh is where I come from,” Heyward-Bey said. “I learned so much from my teachers and coaches. I would not be the person I am today if McDonogh was not along my path in life.”