Running back Najee Harris throws draft party for kids at homeless shelter where he once lived

Mikey DiLullo
The Tuscaloosa News

Former Alabama football running back Najee Harris held a draft night party for kids at a California homeless shelter on Thursday night.

Harris visited the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program in Richmond, Calif., and paid off the shelter's tab for the party.

Harris had lived in the shelter while he was in middle school.

"It was an emotional thing for us," Harris told KRON 4 News. "Just doing this, makes me and my family feel a lot better and just giving appreciation for everything."

Harris finished his Alabama career with program records for rushing yards and touchdowns. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the No. 24 pick in the NFL draft.

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Growing up, Harris' biggest challenges came off the field

Harris moved frequently growing up, battling homelessness and dangerous neighborhoods.

In high school, Harris was well aware of the Antioch neighborhood issues, having heard plenty of gunshots and even seen victims drop to the ground, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 

“At that point, it didn’t really scare me because you hear gunshots over and over again,” Harris said. “We were like, ‘Just another day in the hood.’”

To an extent, Harris felt as though he was protected by his success in football.

Instead of causing trouble, drug dealers and gang members would often say hello to the high-profile athlete, saying, “Keep doing your thing, man, you cool!” 

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