RICHMOND, Calif. (KRON) — Alabama running back Najee Harris is living proof that anything is possible if you pursue your dreams.
On Thursday night the San Francisco Bay Area native was selected 24th overall in the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
However, before celebrating the big night, Harris returned to the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program homeless shelter in Richmond where he lived for several years as a child.
Harris, his parents, and four older siblings all lived in a small room at the shelter in 2010 while struggling with homelessness. He said he has fond memories of the place and wanted to do something to give back.
So he sponsored an NFL draft party for the kids living there.
The night included pizza, chicken, football-themed decorations, cupcakes, and goodie bags. Harris stopped by to visit and take photos with shelter workers and the families who live there.
Shelter leaders say Harris is a huge inspiration for the kids, and they’re thankful he’s continued to stay involved.
“He did not let his situation dictate his future,” said Shelter Manager Siu Laulea, who worked with Harris. “It makes me feel proud and makes me enjoy my job more because I know I made a difference in someone’s life.”
Harris said that he and his family moved 8 to 10 times before he graduated from Antioch High School. Harris went on to major success at Alabama, breaking the school’s rushing record.
As for all of the attention Harris is getting as a first-round draft pick, he says he’s glad because it will help him raise awareness for homelessness and the work that GRIP does.
“Doing this really makes me and my family feel better, just giving appreciation and everything. It’s a subject, especially in the Bay Area, that needs to get shed light on. The more that we are together, the more we can make everything happen, especially in good ways. You know for me moving up I’m getting more attention, more cameras and stuff, that’s good. Because it’s shedding more light on the situation,” said Harris.
If you’d like to donate go to GripCares.org.