Paying it forward: Former NFL player steps up to sponsor local youth team

ROCK HILL, S.C. — A local youth football team just won a national title, but it almost didn’t happen until a former NFL player stepped in to help.

The Westside Junior Hawks’ trip to the national championships in Florida was in jeopardy when a sponsor dropped out at the last minute and they lost their funding. That’s when a player’s mom reached out to Rock Hill native and former NFL player Tori Gurley.

“She reached out to him and within 10 minutes we were on the phone,” said coach Dedrick Petty.

Petty said Gurley provided the team with a generous donation.

“And he just said, ‘Coaches, bring it home. I’m not looking for any recognition or acknowledgment from this. I’m just trying to pay it forward because someone did it for me when I was young.’ It was just a blessing,” Petty said.

The team did not know who made their trip possible until recently.

“Who would expect an NFL player, out of all people, to take from their money to give to an organization they’ve probably never heard of?” player Isaiah Carson said.

Gurley said he enjoys replanting the seeds once sown into his life. He also provided financial support to another youth football team, the Falcons of Rock Hill, who also won their championship game this year.

Gurley hopes the young players he has helped will one day do the same.

“It shows them the gift of giving, regardless of whatever it is. If it’s your time, if it’s money, just you giving with a big heart,” Gurley said.

After years of playing at the professional level, Gurley now helps consult high school athletes for a living through his company, Tori Gurley - Home Field Advantage College Football Recruiting Services.

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