CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — Browns cornerback Denzel Ward and his mom, Nicole, spoke with FOX 8 today to talk about the foundation that’s close to their hearts.
The Cleveland Browns selected Ward in the 1st round, fourth overall, of the 2018 NFL Draft and was the 1st defensive back drafted in 2018.
He remembers back to that moment in Dallas when he and his family got to hear his name called, “Them being able to see my name get called at the draft was a crazy experience for them and myself. We just took it all in and enjoyed the entire moment.”
Having been born and raised in the Cleveland area, then playing at The Ohio State University, before being chosen in the 1st round by the Browns to play in his hometown, he said it’s “a story that couldn’t have been written any better.”
Nicole, along with her two sons, lost the patriarch of their family, Paul Ward Jr, during the prime of his life, a well-loved school principal in the Bedford City School District.
“One of the things that stood out about him was that he was a people-person and that he gave back to the community,” she said. “He was known for his heart and his genuine care for people. We raised our boys to think the same way and to know it’s important to give back to the community.”
She went on to say, “Unfortunately we had to lose their dad this way but it is allowing us to live out his legacy and continuing to do what we do through the Make Them Know Your Name Foundation.”
One thing about his dad that stands out to Ward, is what he would tell him and his brother, P.J., before going out on the football field, “Make them know your name,” which encouraged them to get out there and make plays on the field.
Ward said it also drove them to make a positive impact in school and in the community.
After Paul passed away suddenly from a heart attack at the age of 46 while attending a spinning class, the family’s mission of Heart Health is to not only raise money to place CPR kits and defibrillators in schools, gyms and churches but to educate people about how to use them.
“At the facility, they had a CPR kit nearby but no one was trained to use it,” he said. “It was pretty much just sitting there. Just using the kit gives that much more of a chance to survive. But he didn’t have the opportunity to have it used on him when he experienced a heart attack. It’s a life that could’ve been saved.”
He went on to say: “We are using the Heart Health Foundation to hopefully save other lives, for someone else that experiences a situation similar to that one.”
To kick off the first night of the draft while raising money for his foundation, Ward is hosting a sold-out NFL Draft Watch Party Thursday from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. at the Saucy Brew Works on Detroit Avenue.
He said he’s looking forward to the watch party where the funds raised will be going to heart health awareness and to create more events like it where fans can come out and enjoy their night.
For more information about the foundation or to donate click here.