Usama Young (left) poses with woman and Tim Duckworth during Habitat for Humanity project in New Orleansâ€™ Lower 9th Ward.
Defensive back Usama Young reached the pinnacle of football last year, winning the Super Bowl with his team, the New Orleans Saints. While he is focused and dedicated to his craft, he is also very aware of the world around him. The Kent State graduate has been very involved in helping those less fortunate.
â€œI learned early that itâ€™s important to give backâ€ Usama told the Kent State University school newspaper. â€œWe werenâ€™t rich, but my parents found a way to put food on the table for us, and to feed other people. We would make hot stew and go to downtown Washington, D.C, to feed the homeless. Once I got older I went to the kitchens and would prepare and serve plates on the holidays. As an adult, I get other friends to come with me. Itâ€™s a chance for us to help one another and those in the community who are in need. You have it, so you also want others to have it.â€
Young, who was an education major in college, is dedicated to working with children. Currently he takes time to speak to middle and high school students, calling the sessions â€œChalk Talk.â€ â€œIâ€™m in a great position,â€ he says. â€œThe kids listen to me and relate to me as a pro athlete. Sometimes I can change a life and get a few things planted in the kidsâ€™ heads that the teachers have been trying to do all year.â€
Young has also gone the next step to provide activities for youths to keep them out of trouble, by setting up the Usama Young Youth Foundation. The Foundation provides after-school activities as well as a place for kids to discover and hone their talents.
â€œIf they like drawing, they can draw. If they like basketball, they can get on the court. If they like football, they can go play football. If they play an instrument â€” whatever, I didnâ€™t want to leave anybody out of it. If its kids with learning disabilities, they can get extra tutoring. Itâ€™s not yet there, but itâ€™s starting up. Thatâ€™s what got me to this point, I just said, â€˜letâ€™s get rid of this inactivity.â€™â€
He also started the â€œStay Focusedâ€ camp which focuses on football, cheerleading, and other boysâ€™ and girlsâ€™ activities. Over the course of only one year, the event has experienced tremendous growth, attracting kids from all over the Washington area. â€œWe started with 50 kids, and this year over 200 attended our event,â€ said Young who recruited his NFL teammates and friends to join in his efforts. â€œItâ€™s about teaching the kids to do the right thing and to show them how itâ€™s going to affect their life in the long run.â€
â€œIâ€™m privileged to play in the NFL this season,â€ he says. â€œA lot of guys play three years and then retire. Iâ€™m young enough to enjoy this opportunity and want to use it to make a difference. I started this Foundation because I was always around people who were humble and always helping others. Having those humble beginnings let me know that I can also use my stature to help my community. I can change lives, and I plan to use this opportunity to do as much as I can.â€ Even with all of these programs in place, Usama is still thinking about his next charitable venture. He would like to take New Orleans high-schoolers on trips to visit nearby colleges. â€œMany of them have heard about college, but not many of them get a chance to see what college is all about. We want them to be able to envision the possibilities and to clearly be able to see their future,â€ says Young.
You can learn more about Usama Youngâ€™s growing list of accomplishments and/or contribute to the Foundationâ€™s growth at www.usamayoung28.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @usama_young28.