Everyone knows that Eagles running back Darren Sproles is an awesome player. In his first season with the Eagles, the talented veteran was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice and NFC Offensive Player of the Week once. He also earned his first career Pro Bowl berth.
What some might not know is that Sproles has a debilitating stutter that he's had since he was young. But now Sproles is dealing with his stutter in a way that will also have a positive impact on a teenager who struggles with the same issue. Via Sarah Kogod of SB Nation:
"Sproles is addressing his stutter publicly in an effort to help kids who are dealing with the same struggle that has kept him largely silent until now. He is a part of USA's NFL Characters Unite documentary, a film designed to pair football players who have faced challenges with children going through similar difficulties in an effort to address issues with bullying, prejudice and discrimination. The running back was paired with 16-year-old Sheila Smith, a high school student who has been teased for her stutter so often she decided not to speak at all in school to protect herself from bullying.
"I was teased every day," she said in the documentary. According to the filmmakers, she has become increasingly anti-social and refuses to participate in school activities. "It's a difficult thing to have to deal with in life."
Sproles spent time with the teen as cameras followed, giving her advice and encouraging her to not let the stutter get in the way of life experiences. Smith admitted her fear of speaking to people was preventing her from pursuing her love of fashion design, so Sproles introduced her to the fashion program at the Philadelphia YMCA and helped her design an anti-bullying t-shirt. He also introduced her to a local fashion designer, who has a stutter, to encourage the teen not to give up.
Always cool to see players have an impact not only on the field but off it too. As Nick Foles once said, Sproles is a pretty special dude.
The documentary airs on Friday, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. ET on USA Network.