Carolina Panthers Thomas Davis Named Week 16 NFLPA Community MVP
The NFLPA Community MVP recognizes players who are making a positive impact in their local communities. Each week, the NFLPA celebrates one player who recently demonstrated his commitment to giving back and will make a donation to the player’s foundation or cause in support. This week’s #CommunityMVP is Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis whose foundation helped make the holidays brighter for hundreds of underprivileged kids.
After 11 seasons in the NFL, one would think that the highlight of Thomas Davis’ week would be his first-ever Pro Bowl berth. However, the Carolina Panthers linebacker had spent the days leading up to Christmas giving away about 1,000 presents to children this season.
Given the sheer volume of work Davis does in the community, it should come as no surprise that he was actually at a charity event on December 22 when he found out he had been selected. The team’s general manager and coaching staff placed the congratulatory call to him during the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation’s holiday gift giveaway.
The event with the Charlotte Housing Authority helped more than 300 families have a merrier holiday season, and Davis’ teammates Corey Brown, Devin Funchess and Shaq Thompson were on hand to help with distribution. Attendees were treated to bikes, tablets, and other toys thanks to donations from Schleich USA and Ultimate Audio.
The 14-0 Panthers had an NFL-leading 10 players voted to the annual all-star game, but Davis enthusiastically emphasized that his teammates are excelling just as much off the field as they are on.
"Guys are doing these things because they care about the community. They want to make a difference. They want to have a positive impact. That's the reason why we step forward and go out and do the things that we do,” Davis told FOX 46.
The Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation (TDDDF) works year-round to encourage students to develop the essential life and social skills that will make them leaders of tomorrow. Through education, leadership development and volunteerism, TDDDF strives to help youth realize their goals.
He held two other giveaways, bringing the total to more than 700 children impacted by the foundation’s holiday spree. Davis was born in Georgia and played collegiately for the Bulldogs. On December 14, he headed back to his hometown of Shellman and bought hundreds of gifts for local youth. He stocked up on dolls, remote control cars, bikes and more and allowed the kids to pick out toys for themselves.
"I love my city. I love being able to help the families we're going to be serving today," Davis told WALB. "It's always important to give back. I'm a firm believer in that. That was taught to me at very early age."
His wife, Kelly, is the executive director of his foundation and a native of Greenville, South Carolina. On December 18, they stopped there to give away about 150 similar toys to families in need at the Fleetwood Manor Apartments.
"It feels so much better when you know that you put energy, you put time, you put effort into making sure these kids have what they want for Christmas," Davis told WALB.
A Great Year
Davis was awarded the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the year award in recognition of the amazing work accomplished by him and his foundation.
"It just really shed light on the things we've been able to do," he told WALB. "People started to take note and got more involved with the foundation, which is always good. The more people we have involved helping us out, the more work we can do in the community."
An all-star foundation
Many players would have called it a career after a third ACL surgery, but Davis was determined to return to the Panthers, and he is being rewarded this season with individual and team success on the field. He takes that same passion and drive and invests it every day to improving the lives of those less fortunate.
"Just knowing the struggles of some parents. I grew up in a single-parent household, and my mom struggled to raise me and my sister, and I didn't want these kids to go through what we had to go through. I tried to reach out and give back to them as much as I can to make sure that those kids don't go through those struggles," Davis said when accepting the award.
TDDDF provides free programs for more than 2,000 underprivileged children and their families. In addition to the holiday gift giveaway, annual events include a back-to-school supply giveaway, a Thanksgiving meal for members of a local women's shelter and a free football camp for more than 350 children.
Each year, Davis provides two college scholarships for high school seniors who completed the foundation’s Youth Leadership Academy. During the school year, 25 Charlotte-area middle school students participate in the TDDDF Youth Leadership Academy by attending Monday evening sessions with Thomas and Kelly Davis and others from the foundation’s board. They focus on lessons of responsibility and respect.
"As NFL players, kids are listening to us,” Davis told Panthers.com. “We have a voice, and it's up to us how we use that voice. I'm trying to use my voice in a positive way by showing kids that I care about them and want to see them succeed. I'm taking time each Monday to be here with them. I genuinely care about them."
For more information about the NFLPA Community MVP program, visit: https://www.nflpa.com/campaign/community-mvp
You can follow Thomas Davis on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and his foundation on Twitter and Facebook.
2015 NFLPA Community MVPs:
- Week 1: Sam Barrington (Green Bay Packers)
- Week 2: Justin Tuck (Oakland Raiders)
- Week 3: Matt Forté (Chicago Bears)
- Week 4: Cliff Avril (Seattle Seahawks)
- Week 5: Vontae Davis (Indianapolis Colts)
- Week 6: William Hayes (St. Louis Rams)
- Week 7: Michael Thomas (Miami Dolphins)
- Week 8: Jacob Tamme (Atlanta Falcons)
- Week 9: Malcolm Jenkins (Philadelphia Eagles)
- Week 10: Don Carey III (Detroit Lions)
- Week 11: Sammy Watkins (Buffalo Bills)
- Week 12: Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals)
- Week 13: Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs)
- Week 14: Morgan Moses (Washington Redskins)
- Week 15: Brian Cushing (Houston Texans)