Most of the students at Anacostia High School in Southeast Washington, D.C. probably aren't growing up with the same economic advantages that Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals has had. Harper tried doing a little something about that Monday by visiting Anacostia to introduce the kids to the school's new locker room, which he and Gatorade had renovated.
A report in the Washington Post says the act left the kids gratefully stunned. Once football player Jordan McHaney saw Harper and the transformation, he started to yell:
“I was, like, "That wasn’t there before,’ ” McHaney said.
McHaney and his teammates found a totally transformed locker room. No longer dingy and white with a floor football player Mike Williams described as “always sticky,” it now had freshly painted white walls with Anacostia logos on any spaces big enough to fit them, and a new, smooth blue floor.
They saw new wooden benches with inspirational messages like “the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary” painted on them in red. They saw a bright new TV screen with the Anacostia logo glimmering on a blue background, a pristine white board, and black leather couches in the corner. Even the pipes running along the ceiling were painted red and blue.
“It’s magnificent,” Williams said. “I love it.”
Anacostia's football coach is former NFL player Cato June, who called the donation, "Such a great thing," after his team went 2-9 this past season.
Harper, whose own team was playing later that night, said he "could talk to these kids for hours."
Harper gave real advice, too. He spoke to the players about work ethic, about the importance of school, his workouts and having fun. The Anacostia players were grateful he made the trip.
“We took it all in. He could be doing much better things right now,” Williams said. “Way better things. So it’s cool he’d come to the inner city and give back to the community.”
Harper's motivation might come in part from a Mormon upbringing which, like with other religions, has an important community service component. Harper himself passed a general equivalency degree so he could graduate high school at age 16 in order to pursue his baseball career. That's another life experience he doesn't necessarily have in common with Anacostia kids — nor is it the kind of advice you'd give the typical high schooler — but obviously it also didn't stop Harper from doing right by them.
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