On Sept. 29, Prep Rally wrote about a heartbreaking story unfolding at Detroit (Mich.) Douglass High, where thieves broke into the school's field house and pilfered nearly half of the football program's equipment days before its homecoming game. The theft put the team's Friday night game in question, with some wondering if the Hurricanes would even be able to play for the rest of the season.
Douglass did play on Friday night, thanks to gracious gifts from businesses and, prominently, two members of the Detroit Lions, who read about the Douglass team's plight and wanted to help.
As covered by the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, Lions superstar defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and running back Jahvid Best stepped forward to donate free gloves and Nike cleats for the entire team. Together with Quicken Loans -- which donated a complete set of new top-of-the-line helmets from Massachusetts and a $5,000 check to help repair and secure the school's field house -- the Douglass squad actually entered its homecoming game better equipped than it had been before the theft.
"I saw a situation that I could obviously help out in as well as Jahvid," Suh told the Free Press. "And that's why we teamed up and … were able to give back things that these players deserve."
The support for Douglass began shortly after word of the break-in spread. The owner of a local Ford dealership stepped forward to donate $3,000 toward new equipment, and nearby Birmingham (Mich.) Brother Rice High and Plymouth (Mich.) High also helped donate some equipment to the school.
All of those donations went to good use on Friday, when Douglass rolled to a 50-0 rout of Detroit (Mich.) Denby High, celebrating the school's own homecoming on Denby's home field after the Douglass turf was deemed unusable in the preseason. That lopsided scoreline came despite an entire week spent practicing without pads and in street shoes until the team's donations came in just before game time.
The Douglass team said that the support from the community made a big difference in their outlook heading into the game, as running back Demetrius Stinson told the Free Press.
"People care, and they supported us," he said. "We had to prove we could get through adversity."
For his part, Suh insisted that he and Best were only trying to do the right thing after hearing about a local team in turmoil.
"I felt bad for them, being in a tough situation," Suh told the News. "It's nothing more than trying to give something to them that they need."
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- Detroit Free Press