When Najee Harris was growing up, he wanted to hide the fact that he had stayed in a shelter for those experiencing homelessness. He felt ashamed of his experience until his friend Marcus Malu taught him that his story was worth sharing. With help from his mother, Najee Harris gives back to the shelter they stayed in and to many more families in need.
After multiple evictions, Najee and his family lived in a van in Golden Gate Park. Najee Harris’ mother, Tiana Hicks, knew things had to change. She found her strength in prayer and faith. Her children were her ultimate motivation to improve their circumstances and stay positive. Their family stayed at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program, also known as GRIP. In an interview with ABC7’s Ama Daetz, Tiana Hicks stated, “GRIP was there for me when I was at one of my lowest points, especially when I had five children.” GRIP gave her and her children a sense of normalcy while they were going through a difficult time by keeping them in school and giving them a safe place to rest. Without GRIP, their family would have been separated.
When Tiana got back on her feet, she would help in soup kitchens, and their family would give back whenever they could. Najee started playing football at Antioch High School which is the number one college recruiting high school in America, according to the SF Chronicle. He became the number one draft pick in Alabama and chose to join the Pittsburgh Steelers. Najee started to give back to his community as soon as he could, he even had his pre-draft party at GRIP. This in turn, gave the shelter a lot of media attention and donations poured into the organization. Najee stated that he came back to GRIP to, “Show support and give back to the community.” Without the relief his family received from GRIP, Najee would not be the success he is today.
With his passion and empathy for families that are currently experiencing homelessness, Najee plans to buy another building for GRIP. He has also made his own non-profit, Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation. The foundation focuses on assisting families in need to reach their highest potential and goals. According to their website, they centralize in “education, homelessness, addressing hunger and using sports as a platform to develop life skills.” The mother-son duo work together to organize the non-profit, making all of Najee’s ideas possible. Just last Thanksgiving Harris’ Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation teamed up with the Chaffin Luhana Foundation for a turkey giveaway and assisted over 700 families. Tiana Hicks explained that when she was experiencing homlessness, “Nobody really looks at you.” Today she and her son are giving a voice to those who need it most.