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Willie Gay proud to give back to Starkville community with latest football camp

3rupauk8_400x400by:Robbie Faulk06/08/24


Willie Gay Talks Football Camp In Starkville

It started as just a dream for Willie Gay.

As a young kid in Starkville, Gay dreamed of one day playing football in the NFL. A part of those dreams was being able to give back to a community that supported him through the ups and downs of his life and his football career. He’s getting a chance to do both and do it at a high level.

The current New Orleans Saints linebacker was back in town on Saturday putting together his first “Juiceman Football Camp”. It was a camp free of charge of the local community and his way of paying it forward for everything that Starkville has meant to him.

“It’s my hometown. I’ve been wanting to do this because I was one of those little kids,” Gay said. “To be able to be in the position where I can host the kids and give back is a big deal to me. I might have more fun than them.”

Away from the football field, Gay is softspoken, but he carries himself with a different demeanor between the lines.

The “Juiceman” personality has followed Gay from Starkville all the way to the pros. For the Kansas City Chiefs, Gay never saw a microphone or a camera he didn’t love. He wanted to bring that same type of mentality to his camp on Saturday as he was back on his old football field at Starkville High School.

“It’s just who I am – my personality. I’m a little quiet off the field, but on the field I turn it up to a whole different level,” Gay said. “That’s what I want my camp to be based on. I want my kids to have energy, have fun.”

It’s been a busy few months for Gay. After helping the Chiefs to their second Super Bowl win in a row and adding another ring to his finger, Gay was on the move in the offseason.

The former second round draft pick spent the last four seasons with the Chiefs playing in 57 games and starting 47 as he corralled 233 tackles, 17.0 tackles for loss, 19 pass deflections, 5.0 sacks, four interceptions and a touchdown. He was a free agent after his fourth season and will be closer to home this year as he plays with the New Orleans Saints.

This move to New Orleans was bittersweet for Gay but he’s happy to be closer to home and playing for another strong franchise.

“It’s been perfect. There’s not many Kansas City fans in Starkville and they hated on me a little bit being so far away so I tell them now that I’m home and they can support me a little more,” Gay joked. “It’s a big deal and a good thing for me to see the Saints fans here in Starkville latching on.”

On Saturday, Gay had the support of several former coaches, mentors and teammates on hand at SHS all ready to lend a hand and help him give back to his community.

It was a full-circle moment for a kid that always wanted to be in the position he’s in and he’s taking full advantage. Starkville and Mississippi State showed their appreciation to Gay earlier this year by awarding him his own day in town and on campus and he continues to strengthen his bond with the community by playing his part.

“It was always my dream. I saw it before it happened,” Gay said. “Now that I’m here, it’s a blessing. I’m thankful. God is good.”

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