O.J. Howard at Adullam House

Kids at Adullam House in Wetumpka were treated to a special visit Wednesday when former Alabama football star O.J. Howard came to campus to hang out for the morning. Howard, who now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL, grew up in Prattville and returned home for some time during the offseason but he wanted to spend that time giving back to his home community.

“Home will always hold a special place in your heart,” Howard said. “So when I get an opportunity to do stuff like this, it’s always exciting. You want to show the kids they can be who you are or even better in whatever they want to do.”

Adullam House provides care for children with mothers who are inmates at Tutwiler Prison. For some children, it is a short-term rescue while others will be building a new life with a new family.

Howard said he is familiar with the home and his family has been involved with it over the last year but this is the first time he has gotten to visit. His parents run an ice cream truck called “O.J.’s Frozen Treats” and they have visited Adullam House a few times in the past which helped open up the opportunity for Howard to make the visit for himself.

“I wanted to get a chance to hang out with some of these guys,” Howard said. “Whenever you have the opportunity to give back like this, I think it’s just important to make these kids feel special and it’s amazing to have that opportunity.”

Philip Powell, who works for Adullam House, said the family has always treated the kids really well and they were excited to get the chance to host Howard at the main campus. Powell said the Howards actually reached out first to make the day happen and that was the most impressive part.

“I think it’s an awesome outreach to the community that he is willing to come and give the kids his time and make them feel special,” Powell said. “Who doesn’t love to meet a current NFL player?”

Howard, who won the 2016 National Championship Offensive MVP with Alabama, spent a couple of hours on site with the kids and started with having a conversation with them. He said they were a little shy at first but eventually started asking questions about football and what it was like to be in the NFL.

“The kids were kind of awestruck really,” Powell said. “This is the guy they have been seeing on TV for years scoring touchdowns for Alabama and in the NFL. And now here he is.”

In between all the football talk, Howard wanted to the kids to focus on keeping the right attitude through everything. He shared his own personal stories and why it is important to maintain the right outlook on life.

“Mostly, we’re just talking about everyday life things,” Howard said. “We talk about school and how things are going there and they’ll ask me about football stuff. I try to tell them what it takes to become the person you want to become one day.”

After all questions were answered, Howard spent a lot of time on the court playing basketball with some of the older kids at the home. Before he had to leave, Howard made sure to take pictures with any kid who wanted one.

Howard spent the entire morning at Adullam House before leaving for a golf tournament in Prattville to support his former school, Autauga Academy. During his time at home, he also put on a high school camp at Autauga on Thursday and Friday.

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.