TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Sunday’s matchup between the Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans held a lot of meaning and not just for the Bucs, who snapped a four-game losing streak, but for an opposing player, who got to play in his hometown against someone he grew up watching.
During the Week 10 matchup, Titans’ linebacker and Tampa native Azeez Al-Shaair was mic’d up, and at some point during the contest, the 26-year-old made his way over to greet Bucs’ star wide receiver Mike Evans for a heartwarming moment.
Al-Shaair, a Hillsborough High School alum, found Evans and shared his admiration for him while shedding light on why this game hit so close to home.
Growing up, Al-Shaair struggled with homelessness in the Tampa Bay area; he even told Evans that he used to stay under a bridge, adding that he always watched the Bucs’ receiver and his game when he was younger.
“Hey bro, I’m from here, born and raised,” the linebacker told Evans on the field. “I grew up homeless in my whole life. I swear to God, I’ve been watching you since I was a jit. I used to stay under a bridge, bro.”
Evans, touched by the vulnerable moment, said, “Much love, bro, for real. Yo, keep doing your thing, bro. On film, you nice, bro. You play hard.”
The NFL posted the heartwarming moment on X, formerly known as Twitter, that showed Al-Shaair reflecting on how far he’s come with Evans. Watch the interaction here.
Al-Shaair graduated from Hillsborough High School, where he finished his career as a two-time all-state, all-county, and all-conference selection.
He went on to play college ball at Florida Atlantic University before being signed by the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent in 2019. The Titans signed him as an unrestricted free agent in March 2023.