Vernon Davis, a Washington D.C. native who currently plays tight end for the Washington Football team, recently sponsored a clothes give-a-way at a local charity that helps homeless youth. Davis shook hands, took pictures and selfies, and talked to young people at the event, Vernon’s Closet, Sept. 8 at Covenant House Washington in Southeast.
Davis said sponsoring the event meant a lot to him. “It is my desire to use Vernon’s Closet as a way to raise more awareness to homelessness; especially among D.C. area youth and hopefully encourage others to get involved as well,” Davis said.
The event was part of the kickoff to Sleep Out America 2017 where people will live like the homeless for a night to see what their less fortunate neighbors deal with. Sleep Out America will take place on Nov. 16.
Davis spoke to a crowd of 50 in Covenant House’s main hall that serves as a cafeteria. He talked about his tough upbringing in the District. “I have six siblings and we were raised by my grandmother, Adeline Davis,” he said. “My grandmother was there in my life when my mother couldn’t be there.”
Davis said his mother had medical issues and his father “wasn’t around.” He had early scrapes with the law but with the help of his grandmother, went in the right direction.
Davis was an All-Met football player at Dunbar High School in Northwest D.C. and then spent three years with the University of Maryland Terps football team, becoming one of the best tight ends in college football. He was drafted sixth in the first round of the NFL and went to the San Francisco 49ers. Davis’s younger brother, Vontae, is a defensive back for the Indianapolis Colts.
Despite phenomenal success with a Super Bowl ring for the Denver Broncos in 2016, two Pro Bowl appearances and multi-million dollar contracts, Davis said he faced adversity many times. “I think back to my life and life was always throwing me curveballs,” he said.
Davis said through the trials of being sent to the locker room publicly by 49ers coach Michael Singletary, being traded to the Denver Broncos, and being benched and not playing a down in the Super Bowl and being traded again, in a surprise to Washington’s team, he learned to work as a team and to be humble. “The road I traveled was just so tough,” Davis said. “I learned to persevere.”
Covenant House Washington’s first floor rooms were filled with clothes for men, women and children that consisted of suits, shorts, shoes, ties, dresses, jeans, and polos. Davis said the clothes came from his personal collection and from friends that decided to give, too.
He said that his girlfriend, Kayla Sorter, influenced him to sponsor the giveaway.
Davis also treated the people at the give-a-way a meal of chicken wings, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and greens along with cakes and pastries, tea, and smoothies from the Jamba Juice franchise in the city.
“I know what it is like not being able to dress well,” Davis told the AFRO. “You don’t feel good about yourself when your clothes are dirty. It is important to look good and I am happy to give back. I want to do good the right way.”
Dr. Madye Henson, president and CEO of Covenant House Washington, said she was thankful for Davis’s input. “It is important that Vernon and anyone else in his position give back to the community,” Henson told the AFRO. “I am happy to see him speak to young people. He can breathe and speak into their life.”
Michelle Ashby, who lives in Southeast D.C., attended the give-a-way and expressed thanks to Davis for the event. “I feel so blessed,” Ashby told the AFRO. “I got three kids and this will help me with my budget.”