Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 22, 2005
If it weren’t for the teachers and coaches at Calera High School, Byron De’Vinner wouldn’t be where he is today. The former Eagle, and later University of Alabama at Birmingham football player, may have taken a different road, he said, had his community not provided him with opportunities to be productive and stay out of trouble.
That’s why the 1988 Calera graduate makes time to travel from his new home in Murfreesboro, Tenn. to his old hometown in south Shelby County.
&uot;This is just my way of giving back to the community of Calera what they gave me these many years while playing sports at Calera and UAB,&uot; De’Vinner said. &uot;Now other kids will have the opportunity to see that there is someone else out here that is willing to sacrifice his time to drive three hours back to Calera to make sure these kids have opportunities other than the dangerous streets.&uot;
De’Vinner organized a free sports camp in March to give local kids a chance to meet and learn from former athletes at Alabama, Auburn and UAB.
From that event came the idea to hold a charity softball game and start a scholarship to help a deserving athlete at Calera High/Middle School.
The Byron D/Vinner and Friends Charity Softball Game was held in late May, with former athletes from the University of Alabama squaring off against former UAB athletes.
Players like Antonio Langham, Joey Jones and Jeremiah Castille competed for the Alabama team against De’Vinner and other former Blazers.
Sherninna Gaiters was awarded the Byron De’Vinner Foundation Scholarship.
De’Vinner said he hopes to give local kids an &uot;alternate route whether it is college athletics or becoming a doctor.&uot;
&uot;We all have the opportunity to be a professional,&uot; De’Vinner said. &uot;But it must start while we are younger and I am planning to do what I can to make sure my community remembers I gave back to make sure they were successful.&uot;