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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
ST. PETERSBURG - Chris Davis, Marcello Church, Theodric Watson, Andre Hall and Rashod Moulton don't have much of a summer vacation left. Try a matter of hours.
They all are leaving home soon to join their NFL clubs for training camp. They all, however, are gladly using a couple of those precious, last hours of free time to conduct a camp tonight that is about far more than just football.
They'll be at the USF St. Petersburg soccer field primarily to help a fledgling nonprofit organization, the Milestone Foundation, spread a powerful message to area kids that all of their choices lead to consequences.
"These guys, obviously, made some good choices," said Lisa Brown, president and founder of the foundation. "They were grounded in their education and in sports and that's how they made it to where they are."
Brown's personal life was rocked recently by a young man who, according to police, made the worst of choices with the worst of results. Her friend, Kurt Bryant, 35, owner of a luxury car service, a family man who was active in the community with various charities, was shot and killed May 27. Police later arrested an 18-year-old, Marcus Allen Oliver.
"If someone had touched that 18-year-old when he was 13, 14 years old, maybe the outcome wouldn't have been the murder of my friend," said Brown , adding she launched the foundation on May 30 in memory of Bryant.
She then found former St. Petersburg football standouts more than willing to help her out.
Hall (Dixie Hollins/USF/Broncos), Moulton (Lakewood/Fort Valley State/Jaguars), Watson (Lakewood/USF/Panthers), Church and Davis each had his share of adversities or challenges. Each overcame them.
"I grew up here with people helping me out," said Church, a linebacker from Lakewood, then Florida State who overcame a horrific leg injury late in his senior year in 2005 and earned a free-agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers this year. "This lets me just give back something."
Davis, a star receiver from St. Petersburg Catholic and FSU who will be a rookie with the Tennessee Titans, echoed that desire to have an impact in his community.
"We want to have fun and teach them at the same time," he said. "I just tell them, 'It's a long road, but you can make it.' "
If you go
The camp will be held at Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue South, just behind the sign for the USF campus off Interstate-175. The camp, which includes drills and a game of two-hand touch, will begin at 6 p.m. Registration is $5. For information about the Milestone Foundation, call (727) 822-4529.