BELLE GLADE, Fla. - He plays for the NFL, but he hasn’t forgotten his roots. James Lee grew up playing football for the Glades Central High Raiders in Belle Glade. Now, this Tampa Bay Buccaneer is back for Belle Glade’s second annual Muck City Fest and is giving the children in his hometown the chance to make their own dreams come true.
Richard Bryant is thrilled to bring his sons, Barry and Allen, out to play ball with the big boys.
"One of the biggest things I hope they get out of it is sportsmanship and knowing how to play with other players, other kids," said Bryant.
They're taking part in James Lee's football clinic for kids.
It wasn't that long ago when Lee played at Lake Shore Park. Hard work and good role models took him from Glades Central High School all the way to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL.
Now, he's started the James Lee Foundation. His goal? Making sure the children of South Florida get their chance at a great future.
"It's very important that the kids get out and they see what I've done, what I can do and that it's possible for them," he said.
Lee's teammates and friends in the NFL were happy to lend a hand.
"We all grew up in the same type of environment, the same type of neighborhoods and we made it out,” explained Buccaneers player Elbert Mack, “and the sky is the limit for them."
Children can't play football on an empty stomach.
According to Feeding South Florida, more than 200-thousand people in Palm Beach County are in need of assistance and many of those are children.
On Saturday, the organization gave away more than eight thousand pounds of food to families in need in Belle Glade.
“They’ve got lots of kids who need fresh vegetable and fresh fruit because this is what’s going to help them learn. This is what’s going to help everybody grow into good functioning adults,” said Alicia Press with Feeding South Florida.
It's making a big difference for families like Linda Lawrence's.
"If you have a low income, it just helps,” she said. It's beneficial and I'm grateful for that."
Ultimately, the events of Muck City Fest are about shaping lives for the future NFL players, doctors, teachers and other professions the children playing today will choose to be. Lee just wants to make sure they reach for the stars.
"Never let anyone tell you that you can't do what you want to do,” he told them. “Set goals, accomplish them, and strive for the best."