In the aftermath of the storms on March 3 that devastated much of Lee County, Alabama, aid has descended from all corners of the sports world. The Alliance of American Football is helping, as well as both the Alabama and Auburn football programs in providing relief during a time where every day is a struggle. Thankfully, the most successful members of the community’s history are returning to provide help, too.
Former NFL linebacker DeMarcus Ware announced that he’d be donating $10,000 to help offset funeral costs for the 23 tornado victims, including three children, who were killed after a massive EF-4 tornado tore through the state. The Alabama native committed the money to specifically pay for grave markers, according to Lee County Coroner Bill Harris.
“When I heard the news, I didn’t know where to start, I just knew I had to do something. We are coming up on ‘DeMarcus Ware Day’ (April 19th) in the state of Alabama and when that proclamation was declared three years ago, I made a vow to always do my part to protect ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’ All things considered, this donation is small in comparison to the devastating feeling of burying a loved one. I look forward to making an even bigger impact in the weeks to come as relief needs continue to be assessed.”
— DeMarcus Ware, via WSFA News
‘Bama is in Ware’s blood. Born in 1982, Ware played at Auburn High School in Alabama with future NFL Pro Bowlers Osi Umenyiora and Marcus Washington. After that, he earned a scholarship to play at Troy University — also in Alabama — where he was a two-time All-Sun Belt Conference performer. At the 2005 NFL Draft, the pass rushing specialist was drafted 11th overall by the Dallas Cowboys and started a Hall of Fame-caliber career.
Ware became a nine-time Pro Bowler playing for Dallas and later the Denver Broncos, the latter of which helped him become a Super Bowl champion in 2016 playing opposite that game’s MVP, Von Miller.
The Cowboys’ all-time leader in sacks (117) and forced fumbles (32) is the second fastest player ever to reach 100 sacks in NFL history. The only player to do it quicker is Hall of Famer Reggie White, the game’s all-time leader in sacks.
In 2016, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley signed a proclamation creating “DeMarcus Ware Day” to celebrate one of the state’s most well-respected sons every year on April 19.
Just in case that one day isn’t enough, Corpus Christi, Texas declared September 28 to be “DeMarcus Ware Day” in their city, too.
While Ware collected 138.5 sacks (eighth-most all time) in 12 seasons, he used his spare time working with the Boys & Girls Clubs and at events like the Wings For Life World Run. In 2015, Ware was nominated for NFL’s Sportsmanship Award for his charitable life off of the field.
Ware is going to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and few players are more deserving. What he did on the field can be measured in stats, but what he’s done off of it is hard to calculate. Professional athletes are given a platform to prove that giving back is more important than receiving, and DeMarcus Ware continues to embody that message every day.