TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – “Just get out and help. Don’t do anything that is going to hurt our community. Do everything that is going to help our community.”
Jordan McCloud, a quarterback at the University of South Florida, is setting an example during these turbulent times.
“Saturday night, we were watching the news with my family,” he said, “Qe woke up on Sunday morning, myself, my brother, Ray-Ray, my cousin, Markeis Levatte, and Cadi Molina all came together and came up with the idea to go clean the city.”
They started to share their plans, texting friends to meet them at the Champs Sports store on Fowler Avenue. The store had been set on fire early on Sunday morning as the protests in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of officers with the Minneapolis Police Department consumed the city.
McCloud said he wanted to help to clean the city following those demonstrations.
“We needed to do something positive,” he said, “us individually, you know, just try to bring out as many people as we could and be able to show people there is hope out there, there are people who care out there, just try to do positive things.”
A group of nearly 50 people gathered outside of the store on Sunday evening to try to make a positive impact. The majority of those individuals have ties to football in the area.
The older McCloud, Ray-Ray, is a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills and he graduated from Sickles High School. Auden Tate, a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals who graduated from Wharton High School, and Isaiah Rodgers, a cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts who graduated from Blake High School, participated too. Jeffrey Suarez Jr. played football at Gaither High School and Cadi Molina played football at Sickles High School.
They shared a goal and a prayer on Sunday.
“We were happy to be able to do something as a family, you know, we are not really friends. We are family so we were happy to do that together, help the community out but, obviously, it is sad what happened to Champs. A lot of people in that community shop there so, of course, that was devastating but it was just something we needed to do and, while we were doing it, we had smiles on our faces,” said McCloud.
They posed for a picture around the sign. The faces displayed a collection of mixed emotions.
“We were just like, ‘I cannot believe it,’ said McCloud in response to seeing the damage. “It is sad what is going on in our community so, when we got there, we were just like, you know, smiles on our faces and let’s help out as much as we can.”
He brought his 8-year-old sister, Jayde, with him because both Jordan and Ray-Ray wanted to show her how they chose to handle a difficult situation.
“She was confused on what happened and why people did it,” said McCloud, “So we were just saying, ‘Sometimes things happen bad in life that you will never have an understanding of and some people just have to get frustration out,’ and we told her, ‘We just have to pray for those people and just hope that nothing like this happens again.’ She was happy to be out there with us.”
McCloud said she contributed to the effort too.
“She was picking up the little stuff,” he said. “We did not have her pick up anything too big!”
Although he hopes he will not be needed to fix any additional destruction, he says he is ready to do it to keep his city beautiful.
“On it for sure,” said McCloud, “and, then, the great thing about it, we had 100 plus people texting me, texting all of us. They want to join us the next time, just let them know when we are there, as soon as they can get there, you know, coaches, family, friends from high school, everybody around the community.”