Larry Fitzgerald’s Passion For Philanthropy

In a 2016 piece for The Players’ Tribune, future Hall-of-Famer and current Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald highlighted a time near his home in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, that impacted his life off-the-field.

After driving by a neighboring house couple times and seeing a line of cars outside, he became curious and decided to see what was going on for himself. As it turns out, his then-neighbors were hosting fundraising events for a nonprofit that provides hearing aids to the less-fortunate all over the world. His curiosity did not stop there; he immediately wanted to become involved.

To some, this may seem like a quick and easy way to align himself with a charitable organization to improve his brand. However, for Fitzgerald, who is known as one of the “good guys” in the NFL, his reasoning goes deeper than that.

His philanthropic roots can be traced back to his grandfather, Dr. Robert Johnson, who started a nonprofit in the Chicago-area, called the Plano Child Development Center. Similar to his involvement with the nonprofit that provides hearing aids, Plano caters to another of the five senses – sight. The organization is still active today and provides vision care to underprivileged people.

Philanthropy didn’t skip a generation from Johnson to Fitzgerald. His mother was very involved in nonprofits and raising awareness for various causes as well, from HIV/AIDS support to breast cancer awareness.

According to his personal website, under a tab aptly titled “Helping People”, Fitzgerald and his First Down Fund give significant gifts (time, money and resources) to numerous organizations around the country. The organization was founded to “help kids and their families by funding positive activities for kids during the summer and throughout the year, supporting kids and families in crisis and supporting health-related organizations that work with families.” Funds are raised through events such as the Larry Fitzgerald Charity Classic (a charity golf tournament) and the Larry Fitzgerald Celebrity Softball Game, in which athletes from all sports (both in Phoenix and elsewhere) participate.

While Fitzgerald is sure to be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer after cementing himself as one of the best and most consistent wide receivers in league history, his life off-the-field does not get nearly enough acclaim as it should. His philanthropic efforts truly align with his values of giving back to those less fortunate, and although he has no plans to retire, his life after football will have an even greater impact on people.

Whenever the 34-year-old wide receiver decides to “hang ‘em up” and retire from his football career, he is likely to continue his philanthropic efforts. Based on his social media presence (follow him on Twitter, @LarryFitzgerald) he shares what he is doing to raise awareness in the community and his passion for helping people clearly stands out. Just like Kobe Bryant and Nnamdi Asomugha before him, Fitzgerald has found his passion and is sure to continue following it throughout the next step of his career.

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