Darrel Young is a fullback for the Redskins. But when he hangs out with Xavier McDonald, he’s a family member.
Last May, Young became a Big Brother to Xavier, a 12-year-old who needed support after a family tragedy and difficult childhood.
Since their connection, Xavier’s life has been turned around.
“At first he was a little shy like, ‘I can’t believe this is a Redskins player,'” Young said in a Fox Sports feature. “So we went to Chipotle and I told him, ‘Just tell me about you. Be open with me. I’m not a Redskins player anymore. I’m your big brother. Talk to me now.Tell me about school. What’s going on?'”
Young found out about the McDonald family’s financial struggles, and then of Xavier’s father Kevin’s unexpected passing.
It hit closer to Xavier considering his parents had separated after he was born, and Kevin, over the course of a year, was about to re-enter his son’s life.
Kevin died in a motorcycle accident days before they were to meet.
Young felt compelled to help Xavier’s anger and sadness.
He sees him a few times each week, takes him to sporting events and has allowed Xavier to watch Redskins gams from a suite.
“I was always in the community but then I started to realize I was impacting some lives,” Young said. “I then asked myself, ‘Why aren’t I doing this every week? I always tell myself how bored I am here in Ashburn on my off-days. Why not just go out there and have some fun with the kids or military?’ Doing stuff like that has changed me.”
Young, who was named as the Redskins’ Walter Payton Man of the Year, has interest in military-themed community service, which led him to look into the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.
Now, Xavier is improving his grades, is more open to new things and is smiling more, too.
“It’s what you want to do off the field,” said Young. “And how you want to be remembered.”
Read more about Young’s relationship with Xavier here.
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