New Orleans native and NFL star Tyrann Mathieu returned home Saturday afternoon, to give back to the city's youth, at a time when many say crime and violence here is out of control.
400 kids showed up to Tad Gormley Stadium Saturday afternoon, to run drills and perfect their throws. But the highlight of this football camp? Meeting the organizer, Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.
"It's important for those guys to see somebody whose made it to their dream but had some obstacles along the way who was still able to overcome them," Mathieu said of the youngsters.
The former LSU player believes there are many obstacles here, that young people face every day. The honey badger has been critical of the city's crime problem in the past, speaking out after the shooting death of former Saint Will Smith.
Mathieu says of crime in New Orleans, "I was surrounded around it, I've lost friends to gun violence and I've lost friends to jail."
Over the past week, New Orleans police responded to at least 42 separate carjackings and armed robberies. Supt. Michael Harrison said he believes juveniles, out of school, are behind many of the crimes.
"They might be kids but it's absolute grown up behavior and we are going to treat them as such," Harrison said on Monday.
Keeping kids busy and off the streets is one answer to curbing the crimes of opportunity and Mathieu says, showing them there is another way.
He explains, "It's extremely important for these kids to see somebody that made it out of the same situation, same environment that they're in right now."
Parents here support the effort.
Jonathan Moran explains, "Coming up, when I was coming up, I never had this kind of opportunity, to be around this environment."
And so does one other man, whose seen first-hand, how people can turn their lives around.
LSU head coach Les Miles says of Mathieu, "He's doing the things you'd expect him to do, he knows, he grew up in this environment and he wants to take these guys out."