Charles Rice Elementary student receives surprise visit and gift from Dallas Cowboys player

By Raven Jordan, The Dallas Weekly 

A third-grade student at Charles Rice Learning Center in South Dallas received a surprise visit Tuesday afternoon. Dallas Cowboys, Demarcus Lawrence showed up to the school with a gift for AJ Freeman and his grandmother.

AJ, who says his favorite subject is math, plays football and aspires to be a star football player for the Cowboys someday. “When I turn 19 or 20, I’m joining the Cowboys,” AJ told Lawrence. “Tell Mike McCarthy to draft me.” Lawrence, his wife, Sasha, United to Learn and Truist Bank donated a financial gift to the Freeman family. The event was organized by United to Learn, an educational nonprofit, and sponsored by Truist Bank.

“We put together something for you,” Lawrence said as they took their seats in an empty classroom. “This is 18 months of rent for you, and we also gave you a gift card for the holidays so you don’t have any stress on your plate and can enjoy this time with your family.”They also presented her with a bouquet of purple and white flowers. She said AJ had just picked flowers for her out of the yard the other day.

Ms. Freeman said AJ is her only grandchild and she’s been looking for an after-school program for him to join since he has a lot of free time. “He’s the only child, and I’ve been trying to get him into a mentor program, and when you’re an older person, you can’t do that with him [AJ],” she said.

Afterward, Lawrence and AJ had a conversation about all things football. Lawrence also shared some words of wisdom with the student about not limiting himself.“Wanna know a secret in life? The only person that can beat you is yourself. Just know there are no limits in this world except for the limits you set for yourself,” Lawrence said.

This wasn’t the football player’s only stop, either. Earlier that day, he also made an appearance at Bush Elementary School. There, he helped pass out books to students, and representatives from the non-profit organization Big Thought engaged the students in an interactive reading session.

“The community is so blessed with Demarcus Lawrence’s passion for our future football heroes and identifying an amazing family to share his blessings and take care of their lives for the next 18 months,” Abby Williams from United to Learn said. “He just decided, this is what’s important to him. And it was amazing to see him so thoughtfully visit with AJ.”

United to Learn is a Dallas nonprofit focused on student achievement across Dallas ISD elementary schools. The organization is also assembling gift bags and reading books to Chavez Elementary students Wednesday.

Thank you to The Dallas Weekly for this article!