Colts cornerback Vontae Davis understands the lives of foster children all too well. He and his six siblings grew up in a home with a mother addicted to drugs.
“I was almost adopted, but my grandmother stepped in and took custody of us. So, this means a lot to me,” he told them. “I take this personal and it’s placed on my heart to help and give back. That’s what Christmas is for – is celebrating and giving back.”
And that’s what he did on Monday night. To celebrate the holiday season, Davis gathered his teammates and 21 foster kids from Hands of Hope and treated them to a Christmas shopping spree at the South Side Meijer. It was his way of giving back to kids who life has given so little to.
“Kids should be smiling all the time. They’re kids, they want to have fun,” he said. “So, doing something like this means a lot. As a kid, if I could have done something like this with a professional athlete, it would mean the world to me. I would never forget a day like that.”
And neither will they.
“The fact that these guys notice them and care about them and actually are spending time with them is the greatest gift of all. And it’ll be a lifetime memory for these kids,” said Suzy Roth, Executive Director of Hands of Hope Adoption and Orphan Care Ministry.
Joined by the defensive backs, Davis and his teammates spent time with the kids shopping, playing, and acting like kids themselves.
Tight end Mike Miller also joined in.
“I think I’m the only offensive player here,” he said.
And he had a good reason to be there.
“I wanted to help reach out to kids that are in the same scenario I was in when I was a little kid. I was able to talk to Vontae about it a little bit today. We kind of shared each other’s stories, just going through childhood and adoption,” he said.
For Miller, it was refreshing to be able to share his story with someone who gets it.
“He’s a pro on and off the field and he shows that here and with what he’s done with the organization and I’m just trying to follow in his footsteps,” he said. “Big shoes to fill though.”
“At the end of the day, I told Mike it doesn’t matter where you’re at, you always want to give back. That’s what it’s about, serving and helping others,” said Davis. “That’s the only way you receive your blessing and that’s the only way you’re going to be fulfilled in life – by knowing you can change somebody else’s life.”
Davis’ wife, Megan, said her husband’s ability to overcome is one of the reasons she fell in love with him.
“The thing I admire most about Vontae is not only did he come from extremely dire circumstances, but somehow he managed to make it into a positive. Not only throughout his career, the ups and downs he’s experienced, but I think that from where he came from, he still holds onto a lot of that grit that he had back then.”
Seeing how far Davis has come sends a message to the kids.
“What that does is gives the kids hope – hope that he went through tough circumstances and so, they see someone who’s been there and has succeeded and is a success and it’s like, ‘Ok. Maybe I can too,’” said Roth.
Words can’t describe it but the act goes deep for me. We spent a night doing Christmas shopping with foster children and @handsofhopein celebrating the reason for the season, the true meaning of Christmas. Huge thanks to my teammates for coming out, joining the fun and helping to make an impact on others in the community.
The greatest gift isn’t found under the tree.
Hope grows in the heart.
And the only way it spreads is to share it.