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Justin Houston bringing weekend of fun to Statesboro
Justin Houston
Kansas City Chiefs star linebacker and Statesboro High alumnus Justin Houston encourages youngsters during his annual youth football camp last summer. Houston and other NFL players will be in town again this weekend. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff


When the weekend rolls around, Statesboro might easily be mistaken for the site of an NFL minicamp.

For the fourth straight summer former Statesboro High - and current Kansas City Chiefs - star linebacker Justin Houston is returning to his hometown and bringing plenty of his NFL friends with him.


Houston has made it a point to take time out of his offseason to spend time with local youth and support them in their athletic and academic ventures. Along with pros like Demaryius Thomas, Tyreek Hill and Georgia Southern alum Ukeme Eligwe, Houston will coach kids through a free camp on Saturday at Statesboro High.


“I want to do whatever I can to help the kids,” Houston said. “I remember what it was like growing up and working toward my goals and dreams. I want to give them advice and hope that they can achieve big things.”


Over the past three years, attendance at the camp has continued to grow. Houston and the pros are quick to give advice to older campers looking to improve their skills and technique while serving as friendly role models for the starstruck younger campers.


Football is what has made Houston famous, but Statesboro is the main focus for his visit.


“It’s home,” Houston said. “Statesboro is where my heart is and I always want to give back to the place and the people that helped me when I was younger.”


Houston’s goal is to reach as many community members as possible, so his weekend is expanding this year.

Friday night will once again play host to a basketball skills challenge at the Statesboro High gym where the NFL pros show that their athletic abilities stretch beyond the football field. Saturday will feature the camp - free for all and running from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. For those not wishing to hit the football field, this year will also feature a cheer and dance clinic from 10 a.m. to Noon.


Statesboro High won’t be the only stop for fun and games as a 3-on-3 basketball tournament is also new to the schedule. Action will fill the courts at Luetta Moore Park from Noon until 5 p.m. Finally, Houston and company will extend the weekend’s activities to Sunday this time around. Mill Creek Park will be the setting for a community kickball tournament running from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. to conclude the weekend.


“I want everyone to come out — as many as we can possibly get,” Houston said. “It’s not only about football. We want to have something for everyone in the community. It’s all free, so there’s no reason for anyone not to come.”


One final extension to Houston’s efforts to reach out to Statesboro youth is still in the works, but will make the biggest impact yet. Expected to begin in the fall, Houston is starting a foundation that will concentrate on providing local children with tutoring services. Several local individuals and organizations will be involved as Houston envisions a large-scale program that will allow him to have a year-round impact on his hometown.


“It’s so important for kids to have the resources they need to succeed,” Houston said. “I think about the help I had and the help I wish I had when I was their age. I want this to be great for the kids and great for the community.”


For more information about this weekend’s events, visit faithbeforefame.org.