Najee Harris, who played college football at the University of Alabama, was selected 24th by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL Draft on Thursday night

By Jason Duaine Hahn
April 30, 2021 03:53 PM
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Najee Harris
Credit: Alika Jenner/Getty

On one of the biggest nights of his life, Najee Harris decided to give back.

Before the 23-year-old was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 24th pick in the NFL Draft on Thursday night, he bought pizza and goodies for children at the homeless shelter in Richmond, California, where he used to live.

"Doing this really makes me and my family feel better," Harris, who played college football at Alabama, told KRON. He added, "It's a subject, especially in the Bay Area, that needs to get shed light on. The more that we are together, the more we can make everything happen, especially in good ways."

In 2010, Harris, his four siblings, and their mother lived in a small room at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, according to KPIX.

"His mother was instrumental in getting him and all those children through what would normally be the most horrific experience of their lives," Kathleen Sullivan, executive director at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, told the news station of the family and Harris, who was just 12 years old at the time.

During an interview with reporters, Harris said returning to the place where he and his family lived was also an emotional experience for his mother.

"It was almost as if she was crying in a way," he told KRON. "We have a lot of memories here."

The party at the shelter also included chicken, football-themed decorations, and cupcakes for the children.

"You know for me moving up I'm getting more attention, more cameras and stuff, that's good. Because it's shedding more light on the situation," Harris said of how he's using his success.

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Harris helped Alabama win two National Championships in 2017 and 2020, according to CBS News. He also earned the 2020 Doak Walker Award, which is given to college football's best running back.

Before leaving Alabama, Harris became the university's all-time leading rusher with 3,843 career yards and led the school in all-time touchdowns with 57.

He now plans to open a nonprofit organization in Richmond and continue helping the community.

"There was a time I needed a helping hand. They gave us an opportunity to get back on our feet," he told KGO-TV. "So it is my job to give back."