Growing up in a small town in Alabama that had its share of gangs and violence, it wasn't easy for Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb.
His family dealt with personal strife they later conquered.
And Webb always looked forward to spending time after school at the local Boys & Girls Club in Opelika, Ala., treating it as a haven for him to play sports, do his homework and stay out of trouble.
"When I started as a young kid, it really helped me out to have something to do after school instead of being on the streets," Webb told The Baltimore Sun. "I could go there and be with my friends, have a tutor, play a sport. That's why I really like to support it. It helps thousands of kids, especially in the Baltimore area. I'm more from the country, so we have more playgrounds more land to play on. Up here, it's the city life. You ride around and think, 'Where is the playground?' It's in the middle of the streets. Get them off the streets, get them away from seeing the drugs, the violence, all the bad stuff.
"It's not easy being on the streets and trying to go to school. I don't want them to be a victim of their environment. I just want to go and show them what success looks like, that I am real. Sometimes, they look at football players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and think they're supernatural. In the end, they're just regular humans that came from nothing and became something. Let them know you're never too far down. You can always come up."
Webb was honored Thursday night at the Inner Harbor Marriott for his support of Boys & Girls Clubs of Baltimore. Webb, who has a charity softball game annually at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, was given a sportsmanship award at the second annual Be Great Champions for Youth Gala.
Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps' mother, Debbie Phelps, was given an education award at the banquet and Baltimore Orioles standout Nick Markakis and his wife, Christina, were given a philanthrophy award.
"A lot of people have the money, but don't do things for the community," Webb said. "My favorite thing is kids. I was just doing it for the kids, just to see the smiles on their faces when I give them the Christmas gifts. It's exciting. It's helping somebody."
Webb is signed to a $50 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus, but has remained grounded.
"I try to stay the same," Webb said. "I try to stay as humble as possible. That's so important. It's very hard to stay in control, but I keep the Lord first. Give back and be a great role model. I start with the kids in the Boys & Girls Club."
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