Philadelphia Eagles players surprise youth football team, cheerleaders after shootout near Shepard Recreation Center

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — While the Philadelphia Eagles had the day off, some players took the time to give back and surprise students and parents.

Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown and running back Miles Sanders, along with Swoop and the team’s cheerleaders, visited the young football players at the Shepard Recreation Center.

That recreation center was the scene of a horrific shooting in August in which five people were injured. Investigators say nearly 100 shots were fired.

SEE ALSO: Police ID 3 suspects charged in West Philly rec center shooting; 5 injured

“To come back here like this, it’s about resilience. It’s about harnessing resilience. It’s good to hear from people who’ve been there, lived there, done that and gotten away with it,” said Valencia Peterson, executive director of Open Door Abuse. Awareness & Prevention Inc.

The lesson for the young football players in West Philadelphia is that you can be more than your surroundings.

SEE ALSO: Football players and cheerleaders return to Philadelphia recreation center after five shootings

A.J. Brown says he and other players came to support the team. He also shared a testimony of losing friends and family to gun violence and prison.

Sanders shared a similar story and tried not to be a statistic.

“To see the Eagles come into the community, especially in this part of town where they don’t usually get a chance to see people of this size, it was a real blessing,” said Sheila Armstrong, mother of one of the players. “It shows that the players can relate to who they are because they grew up in the same environment that we see.”

The players also stayed for a photo shoot and Q&A with the young players.

The event was part of the Eagles Care Community Tuesday 2022 initiative and the team’s mission to grow the game of soccer at the youth level.

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