When Jaleel Gipson, a high school football player in Farmerville, La., passed away from injuries sustained in a spring football practice, Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who's from West Monroe, La., spring into action to help Jaleel's family even though they've never met.
Whitworth paid for the 17-year-old boy's funeral costs. He meant for the gesture to be completely anonymous, but a member of the family, so moved by his actions, sent out a thank you to Whitworth and the surrounding area, including the Saints' head coach Sean Payton.
"I have never met this person but this tragedy has been far reaching in people hearts and this person in particular has went above and beyond in my family's mind," wrote the family member on the Facebook page entitled Larry ND Keshia Lee.
Once word got out of Whitworth's actions, the Bengals offensive tackle released the following statement:
"My wife and I didn't intend for this to become public but now that it has, I am just grateful the opportunity to serve my community and meet a need. I have two boys, and when I heard about Jaleel, all I could think was that was someone's baby who was taken away tragically. If there is a way my family and I could help ease their burden even a little, that's what I was going to do. Honestly, I wish I could do more. I wish I were home now and I could spend some time with those coaches, players, and Jaleel's family, but I can't. I hope to do that when I return from spring training in Cincinnati."
These are the things fans need to hear about their favorite players and teams. While every team has a player, or a handful of players, that happen to be on the wrong side of the law at times, there are always those who are doing amazing things, sometimes for people they don't even know. Many times, these acts of kindness go unnoticed because players act anonymously. Of course, this day in age it's hard to do anything anonymously, especially if you're already somewhat famous.
This was great to see and while it's hard for Whitworth to give himself a better reputation among Bengals fans because they think so highly of him already, this may do the trick.