12 Jun Darius Butler’s Star-Studded Football Camp Had Message To Youth: You Can Make It From Here
Colts cornerback Darius Butler grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But not the Fort Lauderdale most people picture – the beach, the resorts, the palms trees.
“There are a lot of different sides of Fort Lauderdale. Just like there are in Indianapolis or Hartford, Miami, any big city you can think of. There’s a good side, there’s a decent side, and there’s a bad side to every city,” he says.
“I kind of grew up in the middle of the road. I lived in some rough neighborhoods and I lived in some decent neighborhoods.”
It was never about the house, but what was inside – that helped shape Butler into the man he is today.
“It’s really all about the people you surround yourself with, your support system, and just being positive and having that mindset that it’s not really where you are, it’s what you’re willing to do.”
What Butler was willing to do was work hard, stay focused, and dream big. Now starting his eighth year in the National Football League, he wants kids to know they can make it from where they are – the same place he started from.
“It’s good to just have guys period that can reach back and touch the youth in a positive way. But if it’s someone that actually walked those same footsteps, been in those same classrooms, rode those same buses, played in the same exact park that you’re playing at, I think that kind of hits home a little more.”
He can tell them that, but Butler wanted to show them.
So on Saturday, June 11th, Darius Butler hosted his first annual football camp at a park he used to play in (Joseph C. Carter Park) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
And some of his Colts teammates joined him: Vontae Davis (cornerback), Frank Gore (running back), Kendall Langford (defensive end), and Erik Walden (linebacker), along with former Colt Kelvin Sheppard, Tyvon Branch (Arizona Cardinals safety), Mike Mitchell (Pittsburgh Steelers safety) and Major Wright (Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety).
A rain delay prompted an unplanned Q&A in the gym for the 200-plus kids in attendance.
“That was a part of the camp that wasn’t even intended to be a part of the camp and I think that’s the most important part, is just having that moment where a kid from wherever they’re from can reach out and ask Vontae Davis or Frank Gore or Kendall Langford or one of these guys a question and then get answered directly to them.”
And those guys also represent Broward County.
“They can look at these guys and say, ‘Ok. They came from here. Now I can come from here and do some of those same things.’ Or even different things. Just knowing that they can be successful. They can go off and get a college degree. They can do anything they want.”
Along with the support from the community, his sponsors, and the Colts, Butler was grateful to have the support of his NFL brotherhood.
“Obviously, you’re just breaking out of the offseason workouts, so guys can be anywhere they want to be in the world and they came down and sacrificed some of their time to give back to a community that’s close to my heart. So, I appreciate that.”
Creating moments to build a dream on in the place where his began.
Darius Butler made his dream come true.
And now, he wants to help others to do the same.
The Darius Butler Football Camp was put on by the Darius Butler Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to work in underserved communities to tackle hunger, promote healthy habits, and provide direct educational support and resources to the disadvantaged youth.