Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Eric Berry isn't new to success. The rookie, who has already broken into the surprising 3-0 team's starting lineup, was an All-Pro at Tennessee and the No. 5 pick in last spring's NFL Draft. However, Berry is new to having disposable income to donate to causes he cares about. The budding star wasted little time once he started collecting paychecks to send some of his income back to the high school program that provided his start.
Berry has $60 million scheduled to come to him over the next six years, much of which he can dole out to Creekside's athletic department and other charitable causes. Luckily for the Seminoles, there are two big reasons Berry may continue to provide Creekside with financial support: His twin younger brothers, Evan and Elliot Berry.
Both Berry twins are already two-way starters as true freshmen, which means that their older brother now gets to watch them strap on gear he donated whenever he can catch tape of a Creekside game.
Nonetheless, Creekside coach Johnny White said he had little doubt that Berry would have made the donation whether his brothers were playing for the Seminoles or not. Here's what White told the Journal-Constitution:
"It's funny because when he first signed, Eric said ‘Coach, I want to do something for you all,'" Creekside coach Johnny White said. "I said, ‘Eric you don't have to do that. I know you've got your hands full.'
"Then he was like, ‘No coach, that's my school.' Eric has always been very loyal to Creekside. He was coming back to the school to help out and encourage our players long before his brothers got up there. He has a lot of love for Creekside."
Berry isn't the first young NFL star from the metro-Atlanta area to give generously to his alma mater, either.
According to the Journal-Constitution, Titans rookie tight end Jared Cook heard last fall that his former high school, North Gwinnett High, needed a sponsor for its holiday basketball tournament. Without thinking twice, Cook stepped forward and paid for the entire event. As a result, the tournament was officially dubbed the inaugural Jared Cook Holiday Classic. Cook even donated memorabilia to an auction held at the start of the tournament to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen foundation.
The generosity doesn't stop with Berry and Cook, either. Digging deeper, one can find a handful of NFL players who have reportedly donated to their Atlanta-area alma maters in years past. Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward (Forest Park), Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking (East Coweta) and former Buccaneers safety Jermaine Phillips (Roswell) have all allegedly stepped forward with significant charitable funding for their respective high schools in years past.
Of course, NFL players from Atlanta aren't alone. Other professional athletes have donated plenty to help the programs that form a significant part of their past (Vince Carter's $2.5 million donation to Daytona's Mainland High comes to mind). Still, the example put forth by NFL stars from Atlanta is one worth following, with Cook and Berry serving as the most recent reminder of the area's generous legacy.