As a spokesman for the protein beverage Rockin Refuel, A.J. Green spent time on Tuesday afternoon at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati to present a donation as well as make the afternoon fun for the kids in attendance. We had a chance to get in on the action and watch as anticipation built from the youth. The gymnasium was setup with various sports equipment, but the children all looked toward the door waiting for the Bengals wide receiver to enter.
The event started with a bit of a challenge. At each athletic station set up, Green was challenged by one of the kids to an athletic event. The first one was of course, juggling. Having been a member of his elementary school's juggling team, Green easily tossed the balls in the air for the 8 seconds required.
Next was basketball. One of the kids challenged Green to see who could make the most consecutive free throws. Even though the youngster was confident, he only nailed one basket. Surely Green could top this, right?
Nope, three tries and three misses. Good thing he chose football!
The skill challenges continued as the kids tried to top the Bengals' professional in balancing hockey pucks on their heads, shooting goals into a hockey net and timed hula hoop rotations. It became less about the actual activities and more about Green having fun with some the kids who loved spending the afternoon with an idol and role model. As time went on, the comfort from the children in approaching Green was nice to see, he joked and talked with them like they were peers. It is something they are going to remember for a long time.
One of the challenges was sit ups, in less than a minute, Green was able to knock out 50 easily. Take a moment and see if you can top that.
Green then took some time to speak with the media about the event and giving back to the kids.
"I wish I had this growing up," Green said. He also commented that the sit ups were the toughest thing he had to do with the kids. "I do a lot of ab work, but not sit up," he said.
"Work hard, believe in god, trust in his plan and keep working, anything is possible," Green said as the message he hopes he was able to give to the kids in attendance.
At this point every other member of the media packed up and left. To me, this is where the event became awesome. Green was led into another room where the rest of the club was seated in a cafeteria. Kids from pre-school to high school were everywhere and as he walked in they cheered loudly for the wide receiver.
Green was handed a microphone and the kids were able to ask him anything they wanted. Here are some highlights:
- "When the Steelers came to town, did you make fun of Antonio Brown's hair?"
- "Who is better, you or Jeremy Hill?"
- "When did you start playing football?"
- "What was your dream job growing up?"
- "Can you throw better than Mohamed Sanu?"
- "Would you ever play for a different team?"
Green took it all in stride, answering the kids with no, he didn't make fun of Brown's hair. They are friends off the field. He thinks Jeremy Hill is a great running back and it is tough to compare because they play different positions. He started playing football in the eighth grade. His dream job growing up was to work at Six Flags. He can't throw better than Sanu, "Mo is good at everything.".
When asked if he would play for a different team, he answered quickly, "I hope not".
Green shared a story of struggling growing up. His brother died in a car accident when he was five and he was very close to his parents. They didn't have much money and he was not the best student in school. One of his first coaches got on him about his grades. One year when he finished with two "C's" on his report card, the coach forced him to not only go to a summer school, he made him work to pay for it to not burden his parents. The next year he got a "D". Same deal, summer school and working to pay for it.
In high school it became obvious he was an outstanding football player even though he didn't start playing until the eighth grade. He had an offer to play at the University of Georgia but many thought he wouldn't qualify to go based on having to take the ACT. He studied and took the test his junior year (a full year earlier than required). The test asks many things students would learn their senior year in high school. Green scored a 23, high enough to attend Georgia.
Green left the kids by stating the sweetest success is knowing you worked hard to earn it. Those were some strong words for a group of kids who were so happy to spend the afternoon with their Idol.
Thanks to Rockin Refuel, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Cincinnati and A.J. Green for allowing us to be a part of this great event.