Earnest Graham Talks To JoeMay 8th, 2009
In his never-ending quest to deliver the most diverse Bucs coverage and commentary on the planet, Joe sat down for a chat with running back Earnest Graham on Thursday.
It sure seems as if Earnest Graham is the hardest working Bucs player in the community, especially now that Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks have left the team. Graham’s charitable foundation, Earnest Giving, is constantly working to improve lives.
Part 1 of the interview is below; Joe talks to Earnest about his commitment to the community.
Joe: How much time do you devote in the offseason to your charitable efforts through Earnest Giving, Inc.
Earnest Graham: There’s not a week that goes by that I’m not planning a charity event or attending one and working on an event. …As players, as people, we all have to live in the community and its important to improve for others, that’s very important to my heart. I put as much time in as I can.
Joe: What’s your long term vision for Earnest Giving. Do you have a major goal?
Graham: The foundation is cultural arts based, and we’re looking to place cultural arts centers in the [Tampa Bay and southwest Florida] areas. What I do here in Tampa, I try to do down in the Fort Myers area, where I’m from, as well.
Joe: Tell me about these cultural arts centers.
Graham: It would be a very broad-reaching facility primarily for kids to get into the arts and get in at a young age and develop themselves thorugh the arts — acting, musical production, playing instruments, painting — everything that a child can do within the arts and better themselves.
Joe: Are you personally into the performing arts? Do you play an instrument, dance, what’s your thing?
Graham: I’ve sort of backtracked as far as the arts are concerned, being so focused on football now and before that playing five sports competitively. And that’s not a bad thing, sports have been a tremendous part of my life, but now I’m getting back into the arts. It was a real love of mine as a kid. I played the piano a little as a kid and was always in theater productions in school. Now, I’m really starting to express myself again through the arts again by reading and getting into writing and music. Not everybody’s an athlete, and that’s why it’s just important to me to create opportunities for kids through the arts.
Joe: So one of the big fundraising events on Saturday, May 16, is a fun bowling competition for fans and celebrities? What kind of bowler are you? And who can fans expect to see down there in Fort Myers?
Graham: I’m a big bowler and a big basketball fan. I love both of those sports, so that’s why we’re doing those events on the weekend. … At the bowling event, we’re going to have Mike Alstott, Warrick Dunn, Clifton Smith and about 12 or 15 other players and former Bucs coming out to support and play. …. In bowling you have your bad days and good days. but I step out there any time and bowl a 190 or better. I’d say 190 is my average.
Joe: Down in Fort Myers the city is naming a street, “Earnest Graham Avenue” in your honor on Sunday, May 17. How did that go down?
Graham: I’m really still overwhelmed by it. It’s hard to believe. A woman I never met before who lives on that street — It’s already named Graham Avenue — approached the city and asked them to name it after me with my full name. She’s a single parent and a Bucs fan who’s been working real hard, and she identified with my story and where I came from to get to where I am today. It was a huge gesture by her and the city voted to do it. I still can’t believe it.
Part II of Joe’s interview with Earnest Graham will be here on JoeBucsFan.com late this afternoon. Of course, Joe talked a little football with Graham. You don’t want to miss his comments.