Make us your home page
Instagram

Bucs linebacker looks to set up mentors at bowling event

Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David serves as a celebrity ambassador for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David serves as a celebrity ambassador for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

TAMPA — The sights and sounds of children playing basketball or running through a park are so common, they blend into the background.

Delighted shrieks and playful chases are just part of the afternoon scene in many neighborhoods. But for thousands of children in the Tampa area whose parents may be raising them alone, incarcerated or serving overseas, after-school play time is only a pipe dream.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' linebacker Lavonte David is determined to change that.

On Nov. 14, Big Brothers Big Sisters Tampa Bay, Athletes and Causes, and David will host the second annual VIP Bowl For The Kids' Sake, a night of fun, food and music at Splitsville in Channelside that gives fans the chance to bowl with their favorite Bucs' players (for $1,500) or just enjoy watching the game ($50).

David, who also serves as a celebrity ambassador for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, credits his own upbringing for his passion for the program.

"Growing up in Miami always was rough; it was easy to get in trouble, and hard to get out," he said. "Lucky for me, I'm the youngest of four; they kind of always looked out for me."

According to Big Brothers Big Sisters, 99 percent of littles, as the kids who participate in the program are known, stay out of the criminal justice system, and 97 percent are promoted to the next grade level. Last year, nearly 3,000 kids were successfully mentored. Bigs often stay with their littles long past the required year and a half.

A donation of $1,500 pays for mentor matching and monthly follow-ups, background checks and mandatory training. There are more than 100 kids on the waiting list.

Buccaneers at this year's bowling night will include David, Mike Evans, Jameis Winston, Gerald McCoy and more. The event is just one of many David makes time for throughout the year.

"A lot of people say NFL players are busy, but you can make time," he said. "People want to see you believe in it; I'm a guy they can count on."

David was initially kicked off his junior college football team; that's where he created his mantra, "Fear to Fail," and he shares his journey to professional success with littles.

"I just want to be an ear for them; someone who just wants to sit down and get to know them, not judge them," he said.

Working with David has been "wonderful," said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay vice president De Anna Ward. "One of our littles had a chance to meet him, and you couldn't tell who was more excited. Lavonte isn't just a donor; he really believes in the mission."

The program often proves life-changing for both parties, whether it's going to the beach, enjoying one of the nonprofit's scheduled activities or just spending an hour together every week.

"I spoke to a 91-year-old woman who was a big sister over 40 years ago," said Ward. "She said she wouldn't be the person she is today without her little. It really is a friendship."

David looks forward to this year's event, and recalls a moment last year when he was bested by a little in a strike competition.

"He was trash-talking me the whole night; hopefully this year will be a different outcome," he laughed.

Contact Libby Baldwin at lbaldwin@tampabay.com. Follow her at @LibBaldwin.

>>If you go

VIP Bowl For

Kids' Sake

Bucs linebacker Lavonte David will host the event at Splitsville in the Channelside Bay Plaza, 615 Channelside Drive. Check-in begins at 7 p.m., with bowling scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Lane sponsorships, which include bowling with the Bucs players, are still available by contacting Tanya Fazekas (TanyaF@BBBSTampaBay.org; (727) 518-8860, ext. 237) at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, or by going to lavonte.kintera.org/2016. General admission for spectators is $50 and is available at the door.

Bucs linebacker looks to set up mentors at bowling event 11/14/16 [Last modified: Monday, November 14, 2016 11:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  2. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  3. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador

    Blogs

    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride's popular parade moves to downtown St. Petersburg's scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at 7 p.m. with fireworks at 9:45 p.m. 2 p.m., North Straub Park, Fifth …

    Thousands line the streets of Central Ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg.  [Saturday, June 25, 2016] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]