There were plenty of cool places Asa Watson could have visited this past summer – beaches, mountains, and other alluring coves. So where did the NC State TE wind up? In Los Angeles, on Skid Row.
This was one of many projects Watson has participated in that led him to be name the first recipient of The Freddie Solomon Community Spirit Award. It wasn’t what Watson had intended to do. He had planned to attend Athletes-in-Action grueling Ultimate Training Camp in Colorado until a friend mentioned the LA, California mission trip. That’s when the 6-4, 225-pound tight end changed his route.
“I decided in about 20 minutes God had totally different plans for me,” said Watson. The son of a pastor, Watson spent three weeks in LA. He viewed the city’s glitz and glamour districts, where prosperity abounds and hopes rise to skyscraper heights, and then, not far from the bright lights, he saw how the scenery and scent dramatically changed.
Around Skid Row he saw empty, dilapidated buildings and streets littered with stench and trash. Worse, he saw the abandoned and downtrodden, homeless and disabled people, pimps and drug addicts.
“It was like a different country”, Watson said. I’ve never seen that much homelessness and deprivation in one area. It was shocking. We would talk to the people, pray with the people.”
In a letter to his supporters, Watson wrote “God opened my eyes to poverty, racism, and social injustice. . . He also taught me about the vastness of his love, the need for the gospel and my personal need for grace.”
Article by A.J. Carr
About The Award: Freddie Solomon played his college football at the University of Tampa and went on to play for the Miami Dolphins for three seasons before joining the San Francisco 49ers where he helped win two Super Bowl championships. His career in the National Football League as a wide receiver came to a close after 11 years. Then the Sumter, SC, native known as “Fabulous Freddie”, came back to Hillsborough County to make a more lasting impact. Solomon devoted the next 12 years of his life to the youths of Tampa Bay, working with the Sheriff’s department to teach kids life lessons through football. His efforts impacted more than two decades of youths and his lessons are still carried on in the community. The Freddie Solomon Community Spirit Award continues Solomon’s efforts to help make the world a better place by annually honoring a collegiate football player who has impacted the lives of others through giving and community service.