Former Michigan football players David Harris, Rondell Biggs and Jerome Jackson are joining teammate LaMarr Woodley at his youth football camp this weekend in Saginaw, and kicked it off with a golf fundraiser Friday.
The golf fundraiser included appearances by those mentioned, former U-M football coach Lloyd Carr, former players Will Johnson and Mike Mart, as well as some of Woodley's NFL teammates, Fab Fiver Jimmy King, Spartan All-American basketball players Draymond Green and Mateen Cleaves, and Raiders Hall of Fame defender Ted Hendricks.
"This is my fifth time coming to his event, and it always feels good to give back," said Biggs, who had six sacks as Woodley's opposite bookend on the 2006 defense.
"LaMarr has such a passion for doing this. He doesn't just donate money, but he donates his time. You can tell he cares about his city. Anytime he gives me a call to come help out, I love to come and interact with people, fans and especially the kids, so I can help his foundation."
In its seventh year, the fundraiser benefits the youth of Saginaw, of which Woodley called home, while he is offering a free football camp today to the area's kids.
"When I was younger I went to a Terry McDaniel's football camp, he played for the Raiders and was from Saginaw, and that was always a camp that every kid loved it, so I feel like I've stepped into those shoes and it's my responsibility to service this community," Woodley said.
"I try to bring at least 10 NFL guys each and every year, and make the camp bigger, giving away book bags and other free stuff. This year [former University of Michigan Kinesiology student advisor] Shelly Kovacs is coming to run the academic portion because I want the kids to understand that in order to be an athlete in high school or college, if you get the chance, you have to have the academic side."
Jackson never enjoyed the NFL career that Woodley - now going into his eighth season and first with the Oakland Raiders - did, but he kept a promise to his best friend to serve the community, managing group homes for children in Phoenix.
"Me and LaMarr used to sit up in our dorm room at Michigan and talk about how we were going to give back to our city once we made it," said Jackson, also a Saginaw native that rushed for 718 yards and eight TDs at U-M from 2003-06.
"This is a very special weekend for us to give back to the kids, give them opportunities to mix and mingle with some of the guys that were in their shoes and went out and made something of their lives. Just to show them they don't have to accept that the life they have is all it will ever be. It's just so rewarding because me and LaMarr had conversations all the time about this and we're making good on our promise to each other and to Saginaw."
Michigan's starting middle linebacker on the 2006 defense, Harris will be running his own youth camp in his hometown of Grand Rapids on July 19, on the very same field he played at for Ottawa Hills High School. Now a New York Jet, Harris said he would do anything for his Wolverine brothers.
"We developed some great relationships when we were in college, and seeing each other grow as players and as men has been really a lot of fun because we're all good guys, and we all understand there is something more to life than just ourselves - Coach Carr taught us that," Harris said.
"We all came to Michigan as young, snot-nosed kids not knowing anything about what it took to be a man, and to succeed at the game of football. But we learned so much from Coach Carr and from each other, and so when LaMarr calls, I answer because I want to support him.
"This is my sixth time coming to his golf and youth football camp weekend, and every year it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. He's able to touch so many young lives with all the things he does in his community. He has such a big heart and it's good to be a part of this."
TheWolverine.com will have more from this event over the next few days.
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