FRANKLIN, Tenn. – On Monday afternoon, Derrick Henry put on his helmet and football pads and went to work.
On Monday night, the hulking Titans running back found himself leading a group of kids around a sporting goods store, helping them find clothes and supplies for another school year.
“It’s a blessing to be a blessing to kids,” Henry said. “It’s a chance to provide these kids things they need for school - book bags, water bottles, clothes, shoes, anything they need for sports. If they play Pop Warner sports, it can help them. It’s one less thing for their parents to get.
“I was just like them when I was a kid. I wanted to get cleats, I wanted to get clothes, and I wanted to get cool shoes. It was always important to me, to look good going to school. I always wanted to look the best, dress the best. So this is fun for me, and it’s fun to help them out. I love spending time with kids.”
Henry, headed into his third season with the Titans, surprised 15 local students from Boys & Girls Club of Franklin with the back-to-school shopping event.
Each child received a $125 gift card. Spending time with the Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama, however, was priceless. Henry served as a personal shopping consultant for the kids, helping them make some big decisions on outfits, colors, and money.
He held one girl’s hand as he guided her through the aisles.
“I tried to help them match, help them shop,” Henry, who has three sisters, said with a smile. “I was the same way as a kid, wanting to get everything that I like. Just make sure they spend the right way, so if they want something else they can get something else… Some got jackets, some got shorts, and some got cleats.
“It’s a cool thing for the kids, to have this experience.”
Henry, who was in the Boys and Girls Club himself as a youngster growing up outside Jacksonville, Florida, answered some off the wall questions from the curious youngsters.
Some asked him about football, while others asked him about the gold chain hanging around his neck. One girl asked if he was a rapper.
“Anytime I can get with the kids, it is like getting away,” he said. “I love spending time with the kids, and having the opportunity to help them. Anything I can do to inspire them.”
Earlier this offseason, Henry went back to school and got his degree from the University of Alabama, fulfilling a promise he made to his late grandmother.
With kids surrounding him, Henry said he hopes to be a positive role model.
“For me to be able to help them, it is a blessing,” Henry said. “Whenever I have an opportunity, I want to make sure I am perfect role model that they can look after, have fun with, and spend time with. Education is important – I went back to school and graduated. It meant a lot to me.
“So I want to make sure they have someone to look up to.”