Star football player remembers his roots

Earl and Kaz kids

Earl Thomas III, former WO-S Mustang, former Texas Longhorn and now a Super Bowl champion with the Seattle Seahawks, has never forgotten from where he came from.

“There’s a love for me here. I can feel it. It’s real. Orange is my home. It’s in my heart. It’s second to none,” Thomas said.

Part of not forgetting where he comes from is also giving back to the community. Thomas, in fact, was at Granger Chevrolet last Thursday to kick-off his charity, Guardian Angel Foundation. The dealership, moreover, was the first to donate the new foundation. Likewise, Thomas also received a proclamation and a plaque from the city of West Orange declaring February 27 as Earl Thomas III Day. Thomas said his foundation is to help the less fortunate, particularly in the inner city of Orange.

“It’s for those who never had an opportunity. For those not blessed like everyone else,” he said.

The form of that help is granting scholarships to youth for academics, and not only to athletes, but to band students as well. Thomas said he was also in the band growing up and he has a love of music. The foundation will also do other charitable deeds such as giving out turkeys on Thanksgiving and a winter coat drive.

Thomas attributes his lifelong involvement in church for giving him the heart to establish the foundation. He added having a good attitude, being coachable and disciplined have helped him in life.

“Wherever God leads me, I’ll go,” he said.

Thomas said he recently looked at the well worn batting cages where he played baseball as a boy and how then, they appeared so large, but now they appear small.

“Orange is the main reason I’m doing this. To connect the dots. Some are in adverse situations and I want them to keep strong,” Thomas said.

Mayor Roy McDonald and Councilman Mike Trahan of West Orange presented the proclamation and plaque to Thomas. Trahan read the proclamation aloud. Some of its highlights were:

“Whereas, although from humble beginnings, Earl Thomas III has shown young and old alike how far faith, drive and perseverance can take you if you work hard and never give up;” and “Whereas, this fame and popularity has not altered his humble and unpretentious personality, with Earl hosting a free football camp for the youth of his hometown community every year at his alma mater, West Orange-Stark High School;” and “Whereas, his compassion and concern for others goes out even further than football, as he sponsors a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway and a winter coat drive through his foundation, the Earl Thomas III Guardian Angel Foundation.”

Some other aspects at the kick-off at Granger’s included door prizes, a live auction, an autograph and picture opportunity and a long line for residents to meet and greet Thomas. It took nearly an hour for him to greet everyone and no one went away disappointed by not meeting with him.

Thomas also talked some about the Seahawks’ impressive 43-8 Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos. He said in the NFL, it’s so competitive that when the other team can’t keep up, you want to keep your foot on their throats so they won’t come back.

Thomas also mentioned the rivalry the Seahawks have with the San Francisco 49ers. He said both teams have a very physical kind of play. Thomas said his teammates on the Seattle secondary have a connection with each other and a felt energy.

“Other teams players celebrate for themselves when they make a good play. We celebrate with each other. It elevates our game tremendously,” he said.