Dre Kirkpatrick remembers being in the shoes of the football players he stood in front of Wednesday at Gadsden City High School.
Fast forward nine years later, the current Cincinnati Bengals cornerback is in position to return to Gadsden and lend a helping hand to where it all started. Kirkpatrick presented a $10,000 check to the GCHS football program in front of members of the team and coaching staff in the school’s library.
It’s not the first time the 2009 Gadsden City alum has donated to his alma mater, but it is the first time it’s been made public.
The former University of Alabama standout said he has donated a check every year he’s been in the NFL.
“I haven’t forgotten where I came from,” Kirkpatrick said. “I do support my city. I do try to get back and vote when I can. And I’m trying to be vocal in the community. I’m trying to be somebody the kids can look up to.”
But it wasn’t just about the check.
Sure, it was a generous amount and Gadsden City was more than grateful for it. But the two-time national champion could’ve come into the school, shook hands, posed for pictures with the check and leave.
That’s not Kirkpatrick, though.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about the money,” Kirkpatrick said, who recently wrapped up his sixth season with the Bengals. “It’s the fact that I’m here and I’m being supportive to my school. This school did everything for me. They helped me get to where I needed to be.”
He wants to provide the kids with help he had coming through the school system, along with the many who guided him in the right direction.
“The little things I can do to send a message, those are the things I worry about,” Kirkpatrick said. “That’s why I stay in cahoots with my school.”
He has been in their situation. He knows what it’s like.
Kirkpatrick also found a way out.
“It’s a blessing for me to even be in this position,” he said. “I worked so hard to be here through my ups and my downs. I like to say the things that I went through made me the man I am today. Just being able to be here today is a self-accomplishment and a dream come true for myself.”
By: Teddy Couch, Times Staff Writer
Posted: February 28, 2018. 7:49 pm
Updated: February 28, 2018, 10:27 pm