Davin Joseph ran into a bit of misfortune last August, suffering a torn patellar tendon in a preseason game that sent him to injured reserve for the entire 2012 campaign. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Pro Bowl guard responded to that tough break by working harder than ever before – on his rehab, of course, but even more so in the community.
It's safe to say that the Bay area community took notice.
On Saturday night, Joseph joined local elected officials, standout scholar athletes, and Bay area sports teams in Clearwater Beach at the 40th annual Clearwater For Youth Celebrity Banquet, presented by Bright House Networks. There, Joseph was presented with the J. Warren Hughes Champion for Youth Award.
Additional honorees at the event included Joseph's NFL family, the Buccaneers; three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Brooke Bennett, who was honored with the Outstanding Achievement in Sports Award; and nearly two dozen high school student athletes receiving scholarships and sportsmanship awards for character and leadership.
The Buccaneers were presented with the Frederick E. Fisher Humanitarian Award for the team's efforts to establish Tampa Bay Buccaneers Field in Clearwater's North Greenwood community. The field has been made possible by a $100,000 donation from the Buccaneers through the NFL Grassroots program.
"Having the support of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Clearwater For Youth is just a tremendous opportunity for us to help our organization," said Hank Webb, executive director of Clearwater For Youth. "We're so involved with the Phillies and the Blue Jays and the Lightning and the Tampa Bay Rays, and now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in this way, it's just great for our organization. The grant that they provided for the field just helps so much in the North Greenwood area, and we're very excited to be a part of it."
Clearwater For Youth was incorporated in 1972 as a nonprofit organization to help local children reach their potential through enriching, productive activities. Developing programs that encourage character-building, sportsmanship and teamwork is at the core of charity, which has hosted sports activities for thousands of Tampa Bay children since its inception.
"Six months ago we broke ground on what will soon be Tampa Bay Buccaneers Field, right over there by Russell Stadium, and soon enough, we'll be cutting the ribbon on the field," said Kevin Brown, the Buccaneers' senior community relations manager. "But it's more than just a field. It's more than the great grass and the fence and the lighting, or the sign that says Tampa Bay Buccaneers Field. It really is about the youth that will receive the opportunity to dream big, build on their teamwork skills, and eventually be the leaders that hopefully sit in this room just like we are today."
To help ensure that no child is unable to participate due to financial concerns, Clearwater For Youth now encourages community sports by offering scholarship opportunities, grants, and matching funds to youth programs and participants in need.
The organization also promotes athletic participation by connecting with local athletes who serve as positive role models to children in Clearwater.
"We've had our Champion for Youth Award since 1986, and had some of the most high-profile athletes accepting that award, and Davin Joseph fits that bill perfectly," added Webb, speaking on this year's recipient. "He's a great leader, he's a great community service person, and he gets it. Davin gets it, not only as a football player, but as a community leader."
Joseph, the Buccaneers' two-time defending Man of the Year for his leadership and excellence on and off the field, has become almost as well-known for enormous heart as for his long dreadlocks. Along with serving as a spokesman for United Way, his community efforts and foundation initiatives have made him as popular in local high schools and service agencies as he is at Raymond James Stadium.
"I'm honored to be the recipient of this very special award," said Joseph. "I'm in love with serving the Bay area, I'm in love with our community. I'm blessed to have the support of a strong organization like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a wonderful family, outstanding friends, and to be able to serve a community like the Bay area has been nothing but a blessing."