Retired NFL player Lorenzo Alexander helps youngsters around Phoenix

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Lorenzo Alexander, former Buffalo Bills linebacker, poses for a portrait on October 13, 2021 in Scottsdale.
Antranik Tavitian / The Republic

Lorenzo Alexander’s voice can be heard weekly in the Valley on sports radio broadcasts, destroying the Cardinals and the NFL.

It has been a way to stay connected to the game and be relevant in the community after a successful 15-year NFL career, playing linebacker for Carolina, Baltimore, Washington, Arizona, Oakland and Buffalo, with 2019 being his final season. .

What he really strives to do is have an impact on the lives of young people. Alexander, 38, coaches his sons’ NFL flag teams, the Arizona ACES Brigade in the Arcadia District.

“I want to be able to bring these resources and these relationships together and then make an impact on the communities I care about,” said Alexander. “South Phoenix is ​​near and dear to my heart. Arcadia is, because that’s where I live. I know a lot of families, people. And just try to fill in the gaps where I can see a problem.

“I feel I have a lot to offer in a supportive role in the community.”

NFL Flag Football League training for over 250 kids in Arcadia

Alexander, who grew up in Oakland, played football at the University of California and had a long, successful NFL career after being signed by the Carolina Panthers in 2005 as an undrafted free agent. He was highly respected in the league, captaining teams in seven of his 15 seasons.

During his last three years with the Buffalo Bills, he was the Walter Payton NFL Team Man of the Year for his charitable work with the ACES Foundation.

Alexander, who moved to the Valley in 2018 with his wife and children, still leads in a way that was important to him in Oakland, where he was shaped by his mother and uncle to be responsible, humble, and a man. action.

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Lorenzo Alexander catches a pass at training camp on July 26, 2014, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Lorenzo Alexander catches a pass at training camp on July 26, 2014, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Rob Schumacher / The Republic

He now runs the Arcadia NFL Flag league with his organization ACES. The league is aimed at children ages 4 to 12, with around 270 in total. His sons, Mason, 11, and Myles, 8, both play for him.

ACES’s mission statement is to support young people, teach them responsibility, be proud of their community and strive for educational excellence while fostering a healthy mind, body and spirit through sport. .

“We’re kind of in a bubble in Arcadia, but we have a little bit of diversity,” Alexander said. “It’s great to see the different groups come together. At the end of the day, the kids love to be there, they love to learn the game, they love to compete.

“We have a lot of great coaches, volunteer mothers and fathers, who are involved and doing a good job of getting the right perspective on what flag football is. It has really helped me pay forward by serving them. . “

“Making a Positive Change” in South Phoenix

Alexander’s litter runs through the valley and into southern Phoenix, which reminds him of his upbringing in Oakland. He was able to help Skyline Prep head coach and athletic director Jamarei Bryant, a former football player and outstanding sprinter at South Mountain High School in the late 1990s, provide haircuts and bags to free backs to children in the community.

“I love what he does,” said Bryant. “I love the things he gave back to the community. We handed out over 300 backpacks to families; barbers gave free haircuts. It was a big thumbs up to Lorenzo for doing this. “

Lorenzo Alexander, former Buffalo Bills linebacker, poses for a portrait on October 13, 2021 in Scottsdale.
Lorenzo Alexander, former Buffalo Bills linebacker, poses for a portrait on October 13, 2021 in Scottsdale.
Antranik Tavitian / The Republic

He partnered with A Permanent Voice’s Dana Burns in the South Phoenix community by going beyond sports.

“To make a positive change in the lives of our youth and their families by volunteering their time, talent and treasure,” said Burns.

Burns said Alexander’s ACES Foundation has a youth civic engagement program, which his daughter participated in last spring.

“It was phenomenal to hear the dialogue from young people talking about ways to improve the communities in which they live,” said Burns.

Alexander said it was important for his children to go to South Phoenix and see a wider range of people in their community.

“I know it’s very bubble,” he said. “People kind of stay in their area. It’s different from how I grew up. We were all over the East Bay, Berkeley, Richmond, Oakland area.

“It was cool going to the South Phoenix community. Obviously there’s a bigger population of African Americans there. It’s something important that I expose my kids to. . People live differently. People who are like them. It benefits my family in many ways. It’s cool to go there and experience a different culture and be part of the puzzle. And to try. to have an impact. “

Burns said Alexander adopted an apartment community called Grand Families Place this Christmas.

Many grandparents are raising children in the South Phoenix community, where their grandchildren have experienced traumatic situations, Burns said.

“He was truly an angel sent by God to families and he already contacted me to ask me what their needs are for this year,” Burns said. “I firmly believe in God, and his word declares that a man’s gift will make room for him and place him before great men. Lorenzo is the proof of the word of God.”

To suggest ideas for human interest stories and other news, contact Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him on twitter @azc_obert.

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