For many professional athletes, the holiday season is as much about helping those in need as it is the playoff push.
The fourth episode of Hard Knocks In Season: The Arizona Cardinals shared a poignant off-the-field sequence with wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins that exemplified this.
"Today, you know, it's about giving back," Hopkins said during a Thanksgiving day drive to Umom New Day Centers in Phoenix. "It's a blessing. About to go to the shelter to go serve about 400 to 500 women of domestic violence situations. My mom was in a domestic situation that left her without her eyesight. So for me, it's part of my life."
The story of Hopkins' mother, Sabrina Greenlee, as well as the bond between the two, is well known in the NFL community.
Greenlee was 30 years old and a mother to four children in 2002 when she was left blinded by a tragic domestic violence incident, which she spoke about with NFL Network host MJ Acosta-Ruiz on NFL Total Access in October of last year.
With Greenlee robbed of the opportunity to watch her son grow into the All-Pro receiver he is today, Hopkins began a tradition during his time with the Texans of finding his mother in the stands and gifting her with the football following his touchdowns -- a gesture to share the moment and let her feel his presence.
Hopkins extended similar compassion to other survivors of domestic violence in giving back during Wednesday night's episode. With Thanksgiving meals served at the shelter, Hopkins took time to meet with those attending the event, signing memorabilia for kids and checking on their grades or sharing candid moments with women like Rhonda, a fan who excitedly suggested she take the field to help Hopkins' Cardinals.
Just like her superstar son has continued to make the issue of domestic violence a crucial part of his life, Greenlee has turned the harrowing attack she endured two decades prior into an opportunity to positively affect fellow survivors. She founded S.M.O.O.O.T.H Inc. in 2013, a non-profit organization that empowers women affected by domestic violence, connects them with community resources and provides both emotional and financial assistance.