‘It means everything’: Trevor Lawrence surprises local youth organization with big donation

Jaguars QB and Gatorade team up for new equipment, pay 2 years of participation fees for group

Trevor Lawrence looks to throw a pass at Westside Middle School on Monday to players from the TRUE Youth organization. Lawrence and Gatorade teamed up to donate two years' worth of registration fees and new equipment to the program. (Justin Barney, News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The were expecting a routine practice on a humid Monday afternoon.

The football players of the TRUE Youth organization got quite a bit more than that.

The group received the surprise of a lifetime on Monday, courtesy of Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence and one of his primary sponsors, Gatorade.

Not only did Lawrence and Gatorade make a donation to the group that will pay for two years’ worth of participation fees for players to be able to compete in their upcoming Pop Warner seasons, but they’re also chipping in to provide new equipment for the group. But the topper for players and coaches was that Lawrence didn’t just mail them a check and wish them well.

He showed up at Westside Middle School and spent time throwing the football around, signing autographs and engaging with everyone.

“It’s great. Obviously, something that me and my wife [Marissa] are passionate about is giving back to the community,” Lawrence said. “That, along with sports, is kind of a perfect combination for us.”

TRUE — which stands for Trust, Respect, Understand and Educate — is an association in its fourth year and continuing to grow on Jacksonville’s Westside. It offers spring and fall football, along with basketball in the winter. Corey DeVoe, vice president of the association, said it was the biggest day the program has experienced. It hadn’t had any Jaguars players come through in the past. Having last year’s No. 1 overall pick make a surprise appearance to spend an afternoon with

“I don’t know how he ended up coming out here with us to be able to do such a thing with so many programs in the city, but to pick us and do it, it was amazing,” he said.

Lawrence interacted with players from the moment he was introduced to booming applause, followed immediately by raised hands and questions.

What does he like to do in the summer?

How hard is it to be a professional athlete?

What gave you the passion to play football?

Does it hurt to get tackled?

After that, it was playing catch and trying to find an open target amongst the sea of hands that were clamoring to catch one of his passes. DeVoe said Lawrence being there and being visible to young players who have only seen him on TV was the memory of a lifetime.

“It means everything. For these guys to be able to see a person that come from different background and be able to elevate to different levels, and that’s where they’re trying to get later on, to be able to meet him in person, it does everything for the confidence. It does everything for them as a person to be able to reach out and touch somebody that’s doing something that they’re trying to do.”

Lawrence said that he remembers being a kid and having interactions with players like former NFL running back Ronnie Brown and quarterback Cam Newton, and the impact that it made on him. With an opportunity to do the same thing now in Jacksonville, Lawrence said he relishes that opportunity.

“Now that I’m in those shoes, and the kids being able to see me I think it’s a cool thing. If you have a chance to inspire the next generation, it’s always a blessing to be able to try to give back and I think that’s obviously a part of the bigger picture, so something that we’re trying to do today,” Lawrence said. “And then like I said, realizing the importance sports has had in my life and wouldn’t be here without it. It’s taught me so many lessons and just trying to make that as easy as possible for kids to play sports. It’s not always as accessible for everyone. So, that’s a really cool thing that me and Gatorade are doing today.”

Training camp is approaching quickly for Lawrence and the Jaguars. Jacksonville reports to camp on July 24 and plays in the Hall of Fame Game against the Raiders on Aug. 4. Lawrence said the break after minicamp was nice, but training camp is essentially here.

“I mean, at this point now, we’re kind of honing in and getting ready. We’ve had a little bit of a break, got to enjoy that. But now two weeks away, you really got to make sure you’re ready,” he said. “And I feel like I’m in a great, great spot right now. Gained a little bit of weight. Physically, I feel great, I’m throwing the ball really well. I feel sharp, mentally. So just polishing up all those things. Because once we start, you know the 24th, we’re going to be full speed and just excited to get with all the guys and put something together.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.