Before ArDarius Stewart was a star on the football field at the University of Alabama, he was a standout at Fultondale (Ala.) High.
On Tuesday, he returned to his alma mater with a special surprise. Stewart provided the team with $15,000 worth of new helmets, Fultondale coach Richie Busby told AL.com.
“I’m a physical player, so the helmet is the most important part of the game,” Stewart, a third-round pick of the New York Jets in the 2017 draft, told the paper. “So I had to make sure these guys were set. They’re very protected now, with these helmets. I expect to see a lot of physicality, and a lot of hitting.
“I’m challenging these guys to come out this year and show me something different.”
The players seem ready and willing to accept that challenge.
“Other team is going to be looking at us and we know they’re going to be hatin’. It’s going to be amazing,” linebacker Joshua Stanton told ABC33/40. “Folks are going to be walking out there with helmets that nobody else in the state of Alabama has, period. Like I said, it’s a great gift from ArDarius.”
And while it certainly means a lot to the school, team, and players, giving back to his community seems to mean an awful lot to Stewart.
“I have the free time to come do this and it’s something that is important to me,” Stewart said. “You make time for things that are important to you. This school is very important to me. No one really does anything for Fultondale, but Fultondale–the Fultondale community. I’m a part of this community and I just wanted to show them that I’m standing strong with them.”
Busby indicated that Stewart’s good deeds go beyond just material items, too.
“He comes back and goes to the gym and plays PE with the sixth and seventh-graders and he’ll stay here all day,” Busby told the North Jefferson News. “He’s just a tremendous kid.”