Sports

NFL Star Gives Back to Program That Launched His Career

Motivated by the example and encouragement of his late friend, also an NFL great.


National Football League stars Aaron Donald and Bill Fralic both got their starts at Penn Hills High School, outside of Pittsburgh, and at the University of Pittsburgh. They didn't play football together -- Fralic was old enough to be Donald's dad. But as Donald describes it, Fralic always checked up on him and encouraged him not only to play his best, but to use his position to do great things.

Donald has certainly done that. T he Los Angeles Rams' star defensive tackle made a seven-figure donation to his alma mater Pitt, the youngest donor to ever make such a large gift to the university . Wednesday, he saw what a donation like that can mean in bricks and mortar with the opening of the Aaron Donald Football Performance Center at Pitt's football practice facility on Pittsburgh's South Side.

Donald said seeing the facility felt unreal. "This is home," he said. "This is the school I watched on TV as a kid and I dreamed about playing for. For it to be here in my hometown at a university I grew up cheering for and wanting to play for, for it to come full circle like it did, you can't write that story better than that."

Donald is also known for giving of himself. He works out with the Pitt team when he's back in town, and his youth football camps are always popular.

"It's not all about football. Kids look up to us and the way we carry ourselves." Aaron Donald

Donald had a great example in Fralic, who had an All-Pro career with the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions. Fralic was always generous with his time and money. He funded the practice facility named for him at Penn Hills. And just a few months before he died at the age of 56 of last December, he paid for the high school team's travel expenses to the state football championship, which they won,

Donald was drafted by the Rams in 2014.

"That's leaving a legacy behind," said Donald on the opening of the Pitt facility. He could have just as easily been referring to Fralic. "When I'm no longer around, you're leaving a legacy behind that will be there forever. They're going to see that name and say 'who's that' and see the history, and that's the thing that makes you proud."

(Images & video: Aaron Donald Facebook page ; Pitt Panthers Facebook page )

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