And just in case NorthJersey.com ever gets rid of the article, I include below an excerpt from the text.
Nets are Winners Where it Counts
Jarvis Hayes grew up minutes from downtown Atlanta and walking distance from Bankhead Courts and Bankhead Highway, a rough area rife with homelessness, gangs, violence, crime and drugs. Hayes’ brothers were robbed at gunpoint twice and one witnessed their cousin being murdered.
Hayes vowed to help clean up things where he was raised and make a difference, and the Nets’ forward is making good on his promise.
Last week, Thanksgiving came early as the Jarvis Hayes Foundation teamed with Feed the Children and distributed boxes of non-perishable food, hygiene products and other items to 400 families at Compassion Atlanta, an organization that helps the needy in and around the area where Hayes grew up.
“Not only do I want to give back to the community that I’m a part of, but as a professional athlete I feel like it’s an obligation to help out,” Hayes said. “I was blessed to be in the position I’m in to be a professional athlete. I feel like it’s my obligation to bless someone else, if at all possible.”
Hayes, who is out with a hamstring injury, started his foundation in May 2007. His giving spirit was inspired by his parents.
When Hayes was a youngster, his brother Marcus brought home a boy who basically was on his own. Hayes’ parents took him in and made him part of the family. To this day, Hayes considers Raheem Waller, a Florida A&M assistant basketball coach, his brother.
“Ever since then, from the heart my parents have, it kind of was instilled in me to never turn your back or if you can help somebody, help them,” Hayes said. “That’s how I am today.”
Bankhead Courts was the area where the famous Atlanta child murders of 1979-81 took place. Hayes was born in 1981, and saw enough to know things could have gone very differently had he not followed the lead of his strong parents.
“We’ve seen a lot of drugs, robbery, guns,” he said. “It wasn’t good. We all were blessed to make it out. We all in our own way are making a difference.”
This is the second straight year Hayes’ foundation has fed people for Thanksgiving, and there’s more to come.
Hayes hopes to team with his church in Carrollton, Ga., about 50 miles west of Atlanta, to stage a similar event for Christmas. He also will sponsor a child.
Hayes recently started an after-school program with Maynard Jackson Small Learning Communities to help kids improve their grades and prepare them for Georgia’s standardized tests. A program is in the works to teach student-athletes how to balance academics and sports. Hayes’ parents made sure he received good grades or he couldn’t play sports.
“It feels good just to make an impact,” Hayes said. “I do it for no other reason but to make an impact.
“It’s my obligation. … No matter how good it was and how bad it was you can never forget where home is. I fortunately haven’t.”