Miles Sanders grew up near Pittsburgh, where he says there was trouble around every corner.
“It’s similar to Philly, only smaller,” Sanders said on the “Eagles Insider” podcast on philadelphiaeagles.com
The Eagles running back wants to help the kids back in his neighborhood. He is hosting several football camps in Pittsburgh starting this weekend.
Miles Sanders wants the kids to see a positive role model and he wants to motivate them, to help them succeed. He is following his own path, when his mom took him to football camps hosted by Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward and Troy Polamalu when he was a kid.
“My mom always took us to Latrobe, that’s where they [the Steelers] had their training camps,” Sanders said. “I remember seeing the football players and looking at them like they’re superheroes. I remember being one of those kids and I know what it means.”
SPEAKING FROM THE HEART
Miles Sanders just turned 25 years old, and he remembers what it was like growing up in a rough area. He spoke with passion and conviction about wanting to give back to his community.
- He said football saved his life.
- His words were from his heart.
“My home neighborhood, it’s very easy to become a stereotype or a victim to your surroundings,” Sanders said. “It’s just real easy. I can’t even count on my fingers how many players I seen go through this and end up dead or in jail.
“Friends. Teammates. It’s a lot of stuff. Wrong place, wrong time. Wrong decisions. There’s a guy, I’m not going to say his name, there’s a guy who I knew on my team, my coach helped him get out of jail about twice. He still made wrong decisions. Still had offers and he still made wrong decisions. I always wanted to be different. That’s what made me want to be different. I seen too many people choose that route. It’s an easy way to go in a small city like Pittsburgh. I just want to be motivation and like I said the kids look at us like superheroes. I love that feeling.”
Miles Sanders’ first camp is June 25 and it’s called “PGH 2 the Pros.” He hosts the event with NFL players Damar Hamlin (Buffalo Bills), Khaleke Hudson (Washington Commanders) and Kenny Robinson (Carolina Panthers), all from Western Pennsylvania. Sanders also has a camp on July 10 and is involved with a football all-star game.
“It’s an opportunity [for the kids] to get off the streets and not risk your life,” said Sanders, who grew up in Wilkinsburg borough. “The world we live in is getting crazier and crazier. So, we did have to lock in on the youth and have to try to [make a] path for them to hopefully change the way this world is and the way the country is living and that means a lot to me. This weekend is going to be a lot of kids. We invited almost every Little League team throughout the city, every high school.”
MOM SACRIFICED ‘EVERYTHING’
Sanders told Dave Spadaro on the podcast that he grew up in a home with two brothers and without a dad.
“My mom didn’t hesitate to sacrifice everything [for her children],” Sanders said. Sanders’ mom, Marlene, is a Jamaica native who emigrated to the United States when she was a teenager. I love doing this stuff for the kids,” Sanders said. “My mom knows me best. She knows I always want to do stuff like this, just have them out there, to keep them off the streets, to keep them busy.”
A STRONG OFFSEASON HAS SANDERS MOTIVATED
Sanders is fired up by the Eagles’ offseason moves. With training camp about a month away, he sounded ready to step on the field right now. Sanders was a major part of the NFL’s leading rushing team last year.
“Super [excited for training camp]. I love that our defense is stacked,” Sanders said. “And it’s going to be a competitive training camp. It’s going to make everybody better. I think we have a great team. The chemistry is there. With a guy like Nick Sirianni leading us. He’s going to continue to have that fun feeling. He makes it fun to come to work. We’re going to compete. There are so many good players on this team, I can’t wait.
“I trained really, really (pause), really hard this offseason.”
Sanders is in his fourth season after being drafted in 2019, in the second round out of Penn State. He has dealt with injuries every season, not uncommon for an NFL running back.
He has gained 2,439 yards on 480 carries, an impressive 5.1 average.
Sanders also is a receiving threat. He has 104 catches for 864 yards and three touchdowns.
GREAT ADVICE FOR KIDS
Sanders was asked what advice he would give that talented 8-year-old kid from his neighborhood.
“Don’t be a follower,” he said. “If you got a goal you have to be willing to sacrifice anything and everything to get to that point. That means, the close friends that you have, if they don’t benefit you in the right way, you have to let them go or have your space with them.
“That means, if you’re out and your friends want to go outside and play, you’re at an age in high school where you can choose. I can go out to a field and work out. That’s when all the BS happens — nighttime, on the streets. The streets are not friendly to everyone … I always wanted to be different. I didn’t want to be a stereotype.”