James Ihedigbo Blog: It’s important to keep a community approach

Posted Dec 5, 2014

Safety James Ihedigbo blogs about special visitors at practice and giving back to the community.

I did a little meet and greet at a local McDonalds in Detroit earlier this year and I met the assistant manager there. She was telling me how her brother Dave is such a big-time Lions fan and how he has followed the Lions since he was young.

James IhedigboS James Ihedigbo (Photo: Gavin Smith / Detroit Lions)

She told me how he came across some hard times with health issues where he had to have his leg amputated and is on the donor list to get a new heart. They didn’t know how long he was going to be around. It was frustrating for her to see him not enjoying what little time he had left.

Coach Caldwell always encourages us to reach out to the community so I thought it would be a great idea to have him come to the Lions facility to be here for practice and meet all off his favorite players.

In the time between me meeting his sister and them making it out to practice, he actually got his new heart, which is amazing. His son came to me during their visit and said this was the first time his dad has really smiled since his heart issues. It’s been a seven-year battle and this helped lift his spirits.

Dave, himself, kept telling me how amazing it was to be here. I was happy to watch him interact with all of us players. You don’t really realize how much power we have to change lives and the community around us. But what we think is such a minor act to us, is really major and means so much to other people.

We also had members of the Michigan National Guard out at practice. I have a great deal of respect for what they do and the grueling work they have to go through. It was awesome for them to take a break from their busy schedule and come out and see us practice.

It’s very important to keep a community approach even during the season because it’s not just about us. It’s not just about the Lions, it’s about the city of Detroit. It’s about all the people here. So that’s who we are playing for. We want them to be a part of it. They are Lions as well. The people of this community are a part of us so it’s important to be able to interact with them and have them see us on a more human level, rather than on this pedestal of NFL player.