Braylon Edwards: NFL player, Educational Philanthropist

Here’s an inspirational story for you, as reported in Yahoo! Sports: Braylon Edwards, who was a Cleveland Browns rookie in 2005, promised back then to give $10,000 in scholarships to 100 Cleveland area eighth-graders if they could graduate high school with over a 2.5 GPA and 15 hours community service. Of the 100 who were afforded the opportunity, 79 met the criteria and have begun their first year of college at schools including Johns Hopkins, Cornell and Harvard, supported by the scholarships from Edwards through his “Advance 100” Program.

Edwards, a University of Michigan graduate (as was his father Stanley Edwards, who also played pro football), developed the Advance 100 program with his mother as a way to give back. According to Edwards, his family felt blessed with his football abilities and wanted to use their good fortune to help out others. Though he didn’t expect so many of the students to fit the criteria (only half of Cleveland public school students graduate high school), Edwards didn’t shy away from his commitment. In fact, he increased it. In addition to providing the $790,000 in scholarship funding, Edwards provided the 79 students with laptops and other supplies to help them out when they arrived on campus. “I’m supposed to give people a chance like I was given a chance,” Edwards said.

After being drafted by the Browns in 2005 and playing more than four seasons with them, Edwards played for the Jets, and then the San Francisco 49ers. At the end of last year, Edwards, who was plagued with injuries this season, was released by the 49ers and is now a free agent.

What an impressive demonstration of reaching back and helping others climb the ladder behind you! Notwithstanding Edward’s widely reported skirmishes with the law over the course of his football career, it would appear that good fortune and great generosity worked together here to change the lives of 79 students. Bravo to Edwards and his Advance 100 Program for their good work.

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