Mario Addison knows firsthand what it’s like to grow up in the inner city.
But while Addison escaped the streets, the Panthers defensive end hasn’t forgotten about those trying to follow in his footsteps.
“I was once them,” Addison said. “I do it to show them that somebody cares. I really care.”
Addison recently spent some time in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala., working with children and families through the Mario Addison Community Partnership. Addison outfitted children at a local Academy Sports + Outdoors before co-hosting a massive free football camp with Carolina cornerback James Bradberry.
Addison also visited the neighborhood he grew up in, even meeting the family that now lives in the apartment he used to call home.
“What I’m doing with this is I’m targeting low-income homes – the ‘hood’ – the people that really need help. Families, like me, that grew up not having much,” Addison said. “To see their face and their smiles, at the end of the day, what people fail to realize, we’re all family. We’re all human beings.
“We all have emotions. We feel this type of way, feel that type of way. We’re all the same. Just because of skin color is different, it doesn’t mean anything. We’re all just one person. We’re a family.”
The mayor of Birmingham recently declared July 7 as Mario Addison Day.