John Ross is famous in football for his speed, having broken the NFL’s record in the 40-yard dash at the rookie combine two years ago. In Long Beach, the speedster is known for his speed as well–but specifically the speed with which he’s begun giving back to the community. Last weekend, Ross hosted his second annual free football camp for Long Beach kids at Veterans Memorial Stadium, with hundreds of campers signed up for a free day of football instruction, as well as free shirts, lunch from Chick-fil-a, and other gear like backpacks or trading cards.
The day after hosting the camp, Ross was back in action playing in a charity basketball game he put on as a fundraiser for his foundation.
“A lot of people said to me last year that they were surprised we were doing a camp after my rookie year,” said Ross. “Honestly I didn’t even think of it. I think it’s important to be out here and to give back. I want to let these kids see the real me–having fun with them, trying to make something positive for them in their community.”
The camp was staffed by Ross’ peers, with second-year Titans linebacker Jayon Brown, three-year Bears linebacker John Timu, and Bucs back Jeremy McNichols volunteering to help the kids, among many others. The Moore League was well-represented with Jordan, Poly, and Lakewood alums on hand. New LBUSD assistant superintendent in charge of high schools Jay Camerino volunteered to support Ross and the local kids.
“I think for my generation, we all grew up talking about wanting to put on events like this to give back, so whenever we host something there’s always a lot of guys ready to come help out,” said Ross. After a Pro Bowl caliber second season, Brown said he wants to host his first free camp in Long Beach next year.
In addition to the camp, Ross’ charity basketball game was a big hit as well, with several hundred fans coming to see Ross’ team take on fellow LB NFL speedster DeSean Jackson’s team–Jackson will host his first free football camp for kids back at Vets. The game took place in the LBCC Hall of Champions gymnasium and featured other NFLers like Terrell Owens and Keenan Allen, as well as Clippers player Montrezl Harrell, who was complimented throughout the game by Clipper Darrell, the game’s announcer.
Jackson’s team ended up winning by two points after Owens couldn’t get the potential game-tying shot off at the end of the game. Afterwards Ross stuck around to sign autographs, pose for photos, and dance with fans.
“I want kids in Long Beach to know that they can make it while having fun, that someone who came from where they’re coming from made it,” said Ross. “We had another great time putting on the camp and the game this year and we’ll be back for sure again next year.”