Bay Area Native Who Was Once Homeless Drafted by Steelers

Najee Harris
NBC Bay Area

A Bay Area man, who was once homeless is now in the NFL as a Pittsburgh Steeler.

Najee Harris was selected by the Steelers in the first round as the 24th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft Thursday night.

“Right now, I’m just excited," he said. "I want to spend time with my family and friends and get to work the next day."

It was a moment that he shared with his mother Thursday night. The celebration was right out of a story book. But Harris’ life as a young kid was filled with hard knocks.

People wouldn’t know it as many have watched him at Antioch High School as a standout running back and then went on to lead Alabama to two NCAA Football championships.

His hard knocks growing up in the Bay Area was experiencing homelessness. Earlier on Thursday, Harris visited the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program or GRIP shelter to spread his good fortune. They also set up an NFL draft watch party for the children to see.

“I think we stayed here for a month or maybe longer than that. I know the time that we had really helped my family out to find another place to stay,” he said.

It was an experience that Harris and Kathleen Sullivan, GRIP Shelter’s executive director will never forget.

“We’re excited that he’s humble. He came here and he thought of us. He says I lived here and I want to see how I can support you," she said.

GRIP Shelter supported Harris’ mother, father and four siblings through tough times. He toured his old room, showing he will never forget where he came from.

“We are excited because of the hope that this story has for homeless. It has for people all over the world about what you can accomplish," Sullivan added.

His accomplishments were already rubbing off on some of the kids in the shelter.

"I’m struggling. Once I get older I know I can accomplish live I will be able to do the same thing,” said 12-year-old DaNique Bankston.

As an NFL player, Harris is realizing his dream. A dream made possible with the support of his community. Harris said his goal is to pay it forward.

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