Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Mike Evans, who was taken with the seventh overall pick in the incredible 2014 WR draft class, makes history in just a few hours as his team becomes the first franchise to play in their home park on Super Bowl Sunday. The team is loaded with perhaps the greatest quarterback and tight end of all-time, another stellar receiver in Chris Godwin and a defense that features prominent players such as three-time Pro Bowler Jason Pierre Paul, five-time Pro Bowl Ndamukong Suh, as well as some of the best young defensive players in the league: Devin White, Sean Bunting, Shaquille Barrett and Vita Vea.
Yet, it’s Evans who has been the heart of the team since his arrival. He is the first player in NFL history to record at least 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons, a mark accomplished on Week 17 of this season when he surpassed the mark set by Randy Moss on the final day of the season. Over his career, he’s averaged 15.5 yards per reception and scored 61 touchdowns. In a recent publication done on Evans upbringing by the Post, they asked players around the league how tough of a wideout Evans is to play against. James Bradberry of the Giants, a 2020 Pro Bowler, put him on the echelon of talents such as Julio Jones and Mike Thomas, citing his strength, speed, size and body control.
However, he’s even more beloved for his charitable work. It’s the second consecutive year that Mike Evans has been the Bucs nominee for Walter Peyton Man of the Year, as his charity The Mike Evans Family Foundation has the goal of contributing hope to households of underprivileged children as well as victims of domestic assault, giving them the opportunity for tomorrow to be better than today. Yet, it was his childhood experiences that encouraged him to start the foundation.
Evans, from Galveston Texas, did not have the easiest of upbringings. When Evans was a child, he grew up in poverty. On top of this, his father was physically and emotionally abusive to his mother. When Evans was nine, his uncle stabbed, shot and killed his father. John Minton III, who worked with Mike on producing a documentary for ESPN on the subject, once detailed the encounter in a secondary account to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “One night, Sam [Mike’s uncle] was out socially with Mike’s mom and something triggered something in him, Sam had gone back home to the residence where Mike’s dad was babysitting Mike and his sister. He tried to entice Mike’s father into a fight, and Mickey was brushing it off and not engaging with him. That put Sam in even a further fit of rage. He went to the bedroom and got a gun and fired it at him. Mickey jumped through a window. Sam took out a pocket knife and went after him. Then he shot him one time in his forehead, and Mike father’s died in the street while Mike was sleeping upstairs at that time.”
The following clip is from December of 2018, documenting some of Evans and his wife Ashli’s charity work.
“I just stopped crying about it when I got to college,” stated Evans. Evans attended Texas A&M, receiving a scholarship to play sports. He was an All American in 2013 and registered for the NFL draft. The 2014 Draft Class is one of the best receiving classes of all-time, featuring Evans, DeVante Adams, Jarvis Landy, Allen Robinson, Donte Moncrief, Brandin Cooks, Odell Beckham Jr., Kelvin Benjamin, among other prominent receivers across the league.
Evans has gone on record, telling Stroud, that “it was tough, and a lot of people have tough stories around the world. It’s just that you can’t give up. There’s no excuse to give up the hand you’re dealt. You’ve just got to keep fighting and make something positive out of it.” Mike has certainly made a positive out of his life and continues to make a positive life for kids around the United States that aren’t dealt the best hand.
Mike Evans, whose father was killed in his own home at nine years old due to atrocities inflicted upon his mother, went through a lot of trauma at a young age and used it as motivation for success. He is now working diligently with children who have grown up in similar households. Three hours from now, the Super Bowl kicks off and he’s the number one target of the greatest quarterback of all-time, in their home stadium. Tom Brady had just won his first Super Bowl when Evans lost his father and now Evans looks to help provide Brady’s seventh. This is what dreams are made of.
You can read more about the Mike Evans Family Foundation here.
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