This week’s edition of Helping Hands of the Titans focuses on linebacker Daren Bates. For six years now, Bates and a handful of other NFL players have been running the Make the Right Call football camp in Memphis, Bates’s hometown. Daren sees this camp as a great opportunity for kids of all ages to come and showcase their talents. The attendees aren’t just in the presence of NFL talent, but also scouts and recruiters are on hand to see who the next big player may be. Something he loves about running the camp is the ability to give kids opportunities he didn’t have growing up. Said Bates, “Being able to do a camp in your hometown…giving back to the kids, something that guys I played with growing up, we didn’t have that. We didn’t have players coming back and giving us camps.” With the camp being free, he and the other players are doing their best to make sure every kid that has a dream of making it to the NFL is getting the best opportunities presented to them.
For Bates, it’s about more than football with these kids. Yes, he loves being able to work with the kids and improve techniques, and that’s extremely important to him, but some things transcend football. He hopes to instill positive qualities in the kids that they can carry with them through all walks of life, not just in football. “Being tough, and being accountable. Always be accountable. [We want] kids showing up on time, be at school every day. Be tough through all walks of life. There are always going to be obstacles, and going through Memphis there are definitely going to be some obstacles, so you have to always be tough.”
In addition to running the Make the Right Call camp, Bates recently worked with Armonty Bryant, a defensive end for the Lions, to open up the AstroKids Gym in Austin, Texas. The gym’s mission is to use proprioceptive learning to cultivate the skills for kids to have strong academic success and make the world a better place.
Daren Bates also continues to raise awareness for the American Heart Association, as they’ve been the charity of choice for him during the Cleats for the Cause campaign during the NFL season. The foundation means a lot to him, for his mother was helped by them after receiving a heart transplant, and their help with her inspired him to raise awareness whenever possible.
Work off the field can be just as if not more important to players than the impact they have on the field, the Helping Hands of the Titans feature hopes to highlight these works. Follow along for weekly stories highlighting Tennessee Titans players and their works in the community.