In March of 2017, safety Mike Adams was part of a group of NFL players that travelled to South Africa with the goal of supporting and inspiring kids at an orphanage and a high school.
“After seeing the impact it had,” Adams said, “we knew we had to do it again.”
So in March of 2018, Adams and the group of players took another trip – this time to Jamaica, where they visited Granville All-Age School in St James.
“We were glad to be there and learn from them,” Adams said. “We learned songs, we played soccer their way. It was a great thing to do.
“I was so happy with the outcome of everything.”
The crew of NFL players brought all sorts of donations with them - from signed jerseys to slippers and toothpaste. Many of the children, especially those at the orphanage, are in great need.
“The houses, how close they are together,” Adams said, when asked what stood out about the living conditions. “They all share electricity off of one pole. Catching rain water just to bathe. It’s sad when you go to another country and you see stuff like that…
“Everyone has their struggles.”
Both near and far.
Adams’ hometown of Paterson, N.J. is the focus of the Team Adams Foundation. He was recently back home to host his 12th annual football camp, and his ultimate goal is to create a community center for Paterson youth.
“My motto is to keep moving forward and bring people with you. The goal is to empower the community,” Adams explained. “I try to give back, because the circumstances where I grew up, I didn’t have (much). And I want to be visible to my community. I want them to see me outside my helmet.”
The helmet, the pads, the cleats – it all gave Adams a path to success. Those pathways can be hard to find where Adams grew up.
“As soon as you’d walk outside, you see a drug-infested neighborhood. Sometimes I had to walk through drug dealers to get to school,” Adams recalled. “I’ve seen people get shot right in front of me. I saw a lot as a young kid that I shouldn’t have. My grandmother and mother raised us, and they were strong for us. As kids, we tried to not get drawn to the negativity, so we used sports as a getaway. I used football as a way out.”
That’s only a viable option for a fortunate few. But whatever the dreams may be – athletics, entrepreneurship, computer science, etc. – Adams wants kids in his hometown to pursue them.
“I want to keep impacting our youth,” Adams said, “so at some point they say, ‘You know what? I can do it, too.’”