Last year Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman told Varina High School senior Hershai James that if she brought her grades up, he would personally reward her with a funded college scholarship.
A year later, James did just that, and Sherman is sticking to his word.
Sherman, who is a graduate of Stanford University, initially had the conversation with James last year at a charity celebrity waiter and football camp hosted by former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson — a Varina alum — to benefit the Excel to Excellence Foundation, which aids children who are getting left behind in their education, environment and society. Sherman made a deal with James on the promise that she became an honor roll student as a senior.
"It goes back to knowledge is power and if you have knowledge you're going to be as powerful as you ever want to be," Sherman told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "Nobody stops anybody from reading and educating themselves. Mike is only trying to empower these kids to be everything that they can be and if we can help with that with our presence, with our (autographed) jerseys (for an auction), with our words, we'll do everything we can."
Added Johnathan Mayo, the executive director of TEAM EXCEL, an incentive program that improves class attendance and academic performance in connection with the Excel to Excellence Foundation: "It's an awesome feeling to see Richard Sherman do something like this behind the scenes to support Michael and his work with our TEAM EXCEL students," Mayo told the paper. "His offer to provide a scholarship shows that he has witnessed the growth and impact of the program over the past four years that he has been coming to Richmond to support Michael and Excel to Excellence. These are the types of acts that the public doesn't see where pro athletes like Michael and Richard are working to impact the next generation of leaders. It also demonstrates the desire of our kids to excel and further their education."
The scholarship amount Sherman is providing is undisclosed, but James will attend Norfolk State University next fall and plans to study business and hopes to travel internationally as well.
"When my senior year began, I definitely had the scholarship in my head as motivation," James said. "With being a senior, the year is really stressful. Having something to look forward to helped. It's like saying my hard work and dedication had paid off.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and his Blanket Coverage Foundation surprised several families with Christmas gifts at Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Monday, December 19.