While her son, Dannell Ellerbe, was standing a few feet away, Valerie Covington was doing something most mothers do — tell embarassing stories about their children.
Covington talked about the times when she would throw the football with her son and Ellerbe would go running for a touchdown before doing a celebration dance. She tried to do her best to ease the embarassment Ellerbe would feel once family, friends and teammates realized his moves weren’t going to get him invited to the next “Dancing with the Stars” competition.
After relating a handful of other childhood tales about Ellerbe, Covington did another thing only a mom can do — gush about her child’s latest accomplishment.
Ellerbe organized a one-day football clinic for more than 150 children Saturday morning at Richmond Senior. A member of the Baltimore Ravens, Ellerbe wasn’t the only NFL player to make an appearance at the clinic. Joining Ellerbe was former Richmond Senior standout and a first-round selection in April’s draft Melvin Ingram. Baltimore teammates All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach and Lardarius Webb and Pittsburgh’s Kade Weston were also in attendance.
After the campers were released for the day, Ellerbe talked about growing his clinic to 300 and 400 participants. He has a perfect role model in Leach to bounce ideas off of to make it happen.
A native of Rowland, Leach has held a free camp for seven straight summers in Robeson County. In the beginning, Leach said he drew about the same numbers as Ellerbe before ballooning to nearly 650 children earlier this month for the football and cheerleading clinic at Lumberton High School.
In addition to putting together his free camp, Leach serves as Santa Claus to needy children. He finds the time in his busy schedule to fly back home and hand out Walmart gift cards to those families. Leach doesn’t do it for the publicity, he does it because it is the right thing to do and wants everyone to have the Christmas they deserve.
Ellerbe is starting to walk the same path as Leach with his clinic and visits with the area’s elderly and youth. Just like Leach, Ellerbe doesn’t do these things because it will look good in the newspaper, he takes the time to do it because he wants to give back to his community.
Even though the Ravens will pay him a nice salary each week, the riches Ellerbe receives from his good deeds will fill a different bank account.
And that is something his mom can really rave about.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org