Last Saturday evening at the glitzy Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach Poly and USC alum JuJu Smith-Schuster launched his charitable foundation with a well-produced gala entitled Trojan Legends. The banquet honored Anthony Munoz and longtime broadcaster Pete Arbogast, and featured that pair on conversation on the stage with Smith-Schuster, Sam “Bam” Cunningham, and current USC coach Clay Helton.
More than the official proceedings of the banquet, however, it signaled the next step of Smith-Schuster’s plans for impacting his community.
“I don’t care about the statistics and the records,” Munoz told Smith-Schuster after accepting his awards. “I’m thankful for what you’re doing for young people.”
Smith-Schuster’s foundation presented the Boys & Girls Club with a $10,000 check, and Smith-Schuster announced plans to provide more than 500 bikes, helmets, and locks to underprivileged kids. They’ll also be training and providing companionship dogs for seniors who’ve recently lost family members. The foundation will also help prop up Smith-Schuster’s plans to continue doing free-of-charge famps in the Long Beach community for local kids. Last year he held his first camp at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
These are ambitious plans for a young player. Smith-Schuster was just 21 when he hosted his first football camp, and is only 22 now as he and his foundation pulled together a polished event that included not only the above dignitaries, but also USC athletic director Lynn Swann and hundreds of other guests. That the charity’s immediate focuses are taking care of children and the elderly should not come as a surprise–Smith-Schuster has always had a strong sense of family, rooted in his mother and father, Sammy Toa and Lawrence Schuster, as well as his Samoan heritage.
“When you see me, you see an extension of my family,” said Smith-Schuster, who had his parents and a few of his siblings on hand for the event as well. “My mom is the rock of our family and none of this would be possible without her.”
“We’re proud of JuJu and what he’s doing to help people in the community,” said Toa.
At just 22 years old with a Pro Bowl recognition already on his resume, Smith-Schuster and his new foundation could have the ability to help people for a long time to come.
L-R: Sammy Toa, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Lawrence Schuster; photo by Mike Guardabascio