TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – He’s the quarterback who loves to give back. For Jameis Winston, this moment is the play he enjoys calling most – paying it forward to at-risk students.
“To be able to spend personal time with these their families, it means more than the world to me. I’m all about family, and this is what I love to do,” said Winston.
The quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, indeed, scored big on Tuesday night while playing the role of Santa, with his sleigh sliding into the end zone during his annual ‘Famous Jameis Jamboree.’
It was one heck of a party where 15 students from four Bay Area schools received a special invitation to have dinner, along with their parents and teachers, at Eddie V’s in Tampa, including presents from the star player himself.
“This is amazing, like a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said student Mia Nunez, beaming as she opened a backpack full of gifts, including a Nintendo Switch, Beats headphones, a $50 gift card, a Bucs t-shirt and an autographed football from Winston.
Amidst the excitement of gift-giving, perhaps one of the biggest smiles came from 10-year-old, Emmanuel Rosero, who grinned from ear to ear, grateful for the presents and for what came next – the gift of time on the gridiron at Raymond James Stadium.
“It was amazing, the most amazing experience in my life,” Emmanuel told us, smiling. “I’m famous, like Jameis.”
Emmanuel’s principal from Alexander Elementary had tears in her eyes as she expressed her gratitude, telling the quarterback how much this means to her, her students and their families.
“That’s something that they see on television, not something they have at home, even their parents were shocked and so surprised, like amazed,” said principal Kristina Alvarez.
While the dinner at Eddie V’s was private for those 15 students, the Christmas party that followed at Raymond James Stadium was open to the public, packed with families and children excited to see the quarterback up close and personal.
They took pictures, got autographs, got hugs and enjoyed meeting the star athlete. As for the quarterback, he says giving back was the best gift ever.