Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (right), walking off the field with University of Miami quarterback Kyle Wright when he was in college, endowed a scholarship at Miami with a stunning $1.6 million gift Wednesday.
When Calais Campbell was a kid, there was a time when he and his family were homeless when his parents lost their jobs.
That's when the Cardinals defensive end was only in seventh grade, years from becoming rich as an NFL star. Campbell's journey was punctuated Wednesday, when he officially endowed his alma mater, the University of Miami, with a $1.6 million endowment of a football scholarship – the largest gift ever by a former Miami student-athlete.
"I always dreamt of playing in the NFL, but I didn't really think about the money at all," Campbell said Wednesday night, during the NFL's Pro Bowl draft at the Arizona Biltmore. "It was more just playing the game at the highest level.
"I never dreamt of being able to give that much money, but given my situation, and as good as the Bidwills have been to me and Arizona has been to me, I'm blessed to be able to do something like that. It means a lot. I'm living the dream, so it's awesome to be able to share my dream a little bit."
The scholarship, officially named "The Calais Campbell Football Defensive Lineman Endowed Scholarship" will go to, obviously enough, a Miami defensive lineman. Campbell will also have the defensive linemen meeting room named after him.
"Calais' generosity will create opportunities for young men for years to come and on behalf of the University, I want to express our gratitude for his commitment to Miami," Director of Athletics Blake James said in a statement. "Calais is an incredible man and along with his family, understands the importance of education and the impact a positive environment can have on a student-athlete."
Campbell himself received a scholarship when he was at Miami that had been endowed. Miami supporters Robert and Connie McGee donated the money that created his scholarship, and Campbell remains close to the couple.
The McGees created the scholarship in memory of their son, who passed away at age 13. Campbell's motivation is simply the possibility of inspiring future football players when it comes to school.
"I'm giving my hard-earned money to make sure you understand the importance of an education, and I think that a lot of the younger guys will appreciate that and work hard," Campbell said. "It'll be there in perpetuity, it'll be there forever, so even when I'm gone it's a little bit of a legacy I get to leave behind."
Images from defensive end Calais Campbell's Career Day for lower-income students, presented by the Philadelphia Eagles Road Trip Crew