NFL player, Covington native returns to give back to Boys & Girls Club

COVINGTON, Ky. – It’s been a complete journey for Detroit Lions quarterback and captain Derrick Barnes.

While accepting the Man of the Year award at Walter Payton in February, Super Bowl champion Andrew Whitworth recalled the moment last season when a fellow player talked about what his job at Cincinnati meant. for him. That player is Barnes, a rookie who spent time with Whitworth at the Covington Boys & Girls Club as a child.

“He said, ‘Hey man, you won’t miss me… you spent time with me when you were a youngster in Cincinnati at the Boys & Girls Club, and that meant a lot to me. me,” Whitworth recounted. “He said, ‘You know what, the main thing I mean, Whit, I made it. I made it to the NFL, Big Whit. “

Barnes, Detroit’s fourth-round pick, was in the crowd during Whitworth’s acceptance speech.

“You know, he’s just here to do what he loves, which is to be around the kids and put a smile on the kids’ faces,” Barnes said. “I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me.”

Now that his first NFL season is in the books, Barnes hopes to do the same. He returned to the Boys & Girls club on Tuesday, hoping to have a similar impact to what Whitworth has had on him.

“As soon as I pulled up, I just laughed and I was like, ‘This is crazy,'” Barnes said. “Walk through the door and just see the smiles on the staff’s faces, the kids’ faces and be like, ‘Well, back to my old stage. “

Barnes said he got chills when he toured the facility, recalling how he used to run through corridors as a child.

“Honestly, I don’t know where I would be (without the Boys & Girls Club),” Barnes said. “I’m emotional about it because growing up and seeing the things that I’ve seen in my life… knowing that I’ve got it, and that’s the Boys & Girls Club – to be able to come here and I’ve had a meal every day since, get around friends, be active, be a kid.”

And he had to meet an influential figure in Whitworth.

Barnes went on to play high school in Holy Cross before going to Purdue. He says he hopes to have a small impact on the kids he sees at the club because he knows what it can do.

“You don’t know the impact you’re going to have on these kids,” Barnes said. “And I just want to be able to pay it forward and be able to be there for these kids – not for my sake, but for theirs.”

Derrick Barnes, defender of the Detroit Lions, returns home to Cincinnati to pay again

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