View photos of the Panthers owner speaking to the local school, accompanied by former defensive end Julius Peppers.
CHARLOTTE – With the clock ticking toward zero, Panthers owner David Tepper stepped up for the West Charlotte High School boys' basketball team.
Wednesday, the high school just down the road from Bank of America Stadium thanked Tepper for funding the team's road trip to the state championship in Raleigh.
"It's great to be here, and it's great to support this team," Tepper told students gathered in the auditorium after the school presented him with a personalized West Charlotte basketball jersey.
Back in March, the program didn't have the funds to travel the night before their title game, which was slated for a noon tip-off. The Lions planned to bus in the day of the game, but Tepper got wind of the situation and paid for two charter buses as well as hotel rooms to allow the team to leave the night before.
"I heard about it, and it was a very short time frame before they had to go," Tepper explained to the media after the school assembly that included an appearance by Panthers legend Julius Peppers. "Sometimes there's no decisions to make to help the community out and to help this particular team out. It's that simple."
Tepper grew up in inner city Pittsburgh and said he understands some of the challenges such schools can face. West Charlotte lost the title game, but Wednesday felt like a victory celebration. Tepper entertained those gathered, asking the students if they thought the jersey would fit him before proving it would and leading the students in the school's rallying cry.
"When you can do something good, you do it – period," Tepper said.