Garrett on Monday morning also packed school supplies local students will need for the school year. The two-day back-to-school kickoff is being coordinated by United Way of Greater Cleveland and the Boys & Girls Club. It continues Tuesday.
Garrett, a local United Way community ambassador, also posed for photos and stuck around for a brief question-and-answer session at the United Way’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Building along Euclid Avenue.
“What do you love most about being a mentor?” one child asked.
“Seeing y’all’s faces; being able to make y’all smile; being able to do something for y’all that y’all remember for years to come,” Garrett said.
When asked why he started playing football, Garrett said he had little choice. In high school, the lifelong basketball fan expected to be on the court rather than the field.
“When I got in, the athletic director was also the head football coach and he told me in his office that if I wanted to play basketball, I had to play football. The rest is history,” Garrett said.
And his “best game” wasn’t in the NFL — rather, in high school, when he made nine sacks, he told students.
Garrett credited former Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith as his greatest mentor; his inspirations as Lawrence Taylor, former New York Giants outside linebacker, and Deacon Jones, the former Los Angeles Rams defensive end.
Garrett also selected the winner of the program’s coloring contest, 4-year-old Evalina, and personally handed her the $25 gift card prize.
There were more than 200 children at Monday’s event, according to a news release.
Garrett also participated in a magic trick, which you can watch below:
Garrett was expected to fill a backpack sponsored by Reebok with notebooks, pens and pencils for students who take part in Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio programs, according to the release. The Cleveland Cavaliers also provided lunch boxes and book bags.
The Gentlemen’s Cave Luxury Barber Lounge gave students free haircuts on Monday, and will be back Tuesday, according to the release.