Many use video games as an escape; a distraction; a release. Video games give us a chance to tune out the noise of everyday life and some of your favorite pro athletes are no exception.
Wide receiver Mike Evans is one of those athletes. An avid gamer, Evans has detailed his hobby of playing the popular video game Fortnite on multiple occasions. He was even playing the game when his agent called and told him about his new contract with the Buccaneers this offseason.
He was also dialed in to his latest game when news of the shooting at a Madden tournament in The Jacksonville Landing broke last week.
"When I heard about it, I was actually playing video games," Evans recalled. "Somebody told me about it who I was playing with. I saw it on Twitter after that."
It hit home for Evans with his love of gaming. So much so, that he decided to do something about it. Evans will be playing in a game of Madden with a gamer who goes by 'Young Kiv' in honor of Eli and Taylor, two of the victims in the tragic shooting. His tone was sincere when speaking about the event and how senseless it was. Shaking his head, he was incredulous as he set up to record a message, visible on his Twitter page, about the friendly game he's participating in.
"You're supposed to be there having fun and trying to compete with other great players at a game and for that to happen," Evans said as he trailed off. "That's tragic and unexplainable."
The game him and Young Kiv are playing is in an effort to raise money for the victims' families as part of the Jacksonville Fallen Gamers Fund. It's a small way Evans felt he could help raise awareness, hoping it will bring funds along with it.
"It means a lot," Evans said of being able to play for the cause. "My agency and the Bucs helped me with the opportunity and it's the least I can do. With my platform, I like to help all those who need it. I'm looking forward to playing the Madden game and raising money for the families."
This isn't the first one-off effort Evans has participated in. In addition to his Mike Evans Family Foundation that aims to support, encourage and empower youth, he finds ways to get involved in other efforts, maximizing his platform for good in the community and around the country. Just recently, Evans donated $11,000 to a family who was awarded $4 in a lawsuit after their father was killed by local police in St. Lucie County in 2014. Evans saw the story on Twitter and asked in a tweet if there was a GoFundMe page set up for the family, where he then subsequently contributed.
Evans is also involved a little closer to home with military initiatives in the Bay area. During OTAs, Evans brought in Gold Star Families to a Buccaneers practice. Families were able to watch practice then meet the whole team for autographs and photos to make an unforgettable afternoon for those who had a member of their family killed during active duty.