One of the most popular times for NFL players to take a vacation is during those five or so weeks from the end of mini-camp and the start of training camp.
The past two years, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne has spent some of that time hosting a youth football camp in his hometown of Shreveport. On Saturday, the former sixth overall draft pick held his first camp in Dallas.
“I’m just letting these guys know that anything’s possible,” Claiborne said. “When you get out, you move around, you go to school and you believe in God, anything’s possible.”
With help from non-profit Christian organization H.I.S. BridgeBuilders and non-profit homework center Reach4Hope, Claiborne’s foundation held the one-day, non-contact camp at William Blair Park in South Dallas.
Claiborne, 23, said his camp goals were to have fun, demonstrate the fundamentals of the game and to show the kids a person who was probably in their same position when he was their age.
“Coming up and making something of myself,” Claiborne said, “letting these guys know that they can do the same.”
One of the participants was 8-year-old Arnaz Reese, a resident of the local Bonton neighborhood.
“When I was growing up, there was nothing down here but drugs and poverty,” said Reese’s father, Clifton Reese. “Kids really gravitate to names and start following people. For him to come down, a professional athlete, the kids look up to people that have an influence. With Morris being down here, kids can look up to him and say, ‘Man, I can do anything.’ And he ain’t that far in age from them.
“In Bonton, the things you used to see was bodies laying out here. Now you get to see kids running out here and having fun and enjoying life, so this is awesome.”
The camp lasted about five hours with lunch being provided by Raising Cane’s. Claiborne said he plans to continue hosting a free camp in South Dallas annually and hopes that with more preparation, some of his Cowboys teammates will join him.
“This is the first step,” Claiborne said. “We plan on growing on it next year, putting more in and having more [NFL] players out here.”