It is not every day that you get to shop for football cleats with a two-time Super Bowl champion.
“What do you think about this one, little man?”
“Is this your right size?”
The youngster shook his head and pointed to another box of Nike football cleats.
“OK, let me grab that one for you.”
Aaron Ross won two Super Bowls as a member of the New York Giants and also helped the University of Texas capture a national championship. He recently retired after a 15-year NFL career, is married to U.S. Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross and the couple is expecting a son later this year.
But on Friday evening, the Tyler native was at Academy Sports and Outdoors in Tyler helping area youngsters outfit themselves for his football camp.
Ross was on hand to help 15 campers on a $100 shopping spree for each. The 15 lucky campers were chosen at random from the 450 who signed up to participate in Saturday’s “The Aaron Ross Experience.”
Each was able to outfit themselves with whatever football attire or gear they wanted, all courtesy of Academy Sports and Outdoors.
The camp is free and begins at 9 a.m. Saturday. It is sponsored by Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium as part of their Summer Camp Series. It goes until 1 p.m. on Earl Campbell Field at CTMF Rose Stadium with each camper receiving a T-shirt and lunch.
“It’s huge just to have Academy Sports support us and jump on board with Christus Trinity Mother Frances; it means a lot, especially for the kids, to have a chance to have some cleats and gear to wear out to the camp,” said Ross after he made sure each camper found what they wanted.
“So many times I go to the camp and kids either can’t afford to have football cleats or shorts to wear, so they come out in their school clothes. For Academy to be this generous to give them a shopping spree (for) the camp tomorrow; it’s a huge thank you to them.”
Isaac Boykin, 16, from Brownsboro, already had football cleats but wanted to get some Under Armor shirts and shorts. After he picked out what he wanted, Ross visited with him to make sure he was happy with his choice.
Boykin said he was “excited” to be chosen for the spree.
“I picked out some clothes to match what I am going to be wearing (Saturday),” Boykin said. “It’s pretty cool. I’ve met one (pro) basketball player before, but this is the only football player I have ever met.”
Alex Allen, another 16-year-old, preferred to focus on some extras with his shopping spree gift card. Allen, from John Tyler, purchased a football, arm sleeve, chin strap and mouth guard.
As he was rolling down the aisle, Ross stopped him to make sure he was able to find everything he wanted.
“One of the main reasons I started this camp 10 years ago (was to give back),” Ross said. “Kids growing up the same way I grew up from the same neck of the woods, didn’t really get exposure to athletes that probably made it to the NFL … or people that can look up to as a good role model. It is something I wanted to do for the community.”
The Christus Summer Camp Series also includes fellow John Tyler alum and NFL player Teddy Williams’ “Fast Like Teddy Speed and Agility Camp”; Longview alum and current Washington Redskins lineman Trent Williams’ “Life Skills Camp.”
Other camps still to come are “Kristee Porter Volleyball Camp” on July 22 and “The Aubrey Camp” later this summer, hosted by former Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans cornerback Josh Aubrey.
“Our mission is really to get kids up and out and active and off the couch in the summertime,” said Will Knous, marketing and communications for Christus Trinity Mother Frances.
“We hope to add even more stuff in the future.”
Notes: Aaron Ross invited parents of their athletes to join in the fun. At halftime of Saturday’s camp, scheduled for 11 a.m., parents will take part in a special obstacle course set up for them.