NEWPORT NEWS (WAVY) – Antoine Bathea spent his Fourth of July on the athletic fields at his alma mater, Denbigh High School. The 5-foot-11 safety for the San Francisco 49ers hosted his first annual “Community Day,” where local youngsters had a chance to enjoy some bounce houses, cotton candy, and even a little competition with Bethea himself and a handful of other NFL names.
The highlight of the day was a kickball game Bethea put together for the event, and a number of kids joined in alongside Houston Texans linebacker Lynden Trail (Norfolk State University), former Arizona Cardinals offensive llineman Elton Brown, and Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback B.W. Webb.
“(We want them to know that ) we’re all from this area, and a lot of these kids don’t understand that we grew up in the same neighborhoods (they) are coming from,” said Webb, who signed with the Steelers from the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. “Just to show them that you can follow your dreams and be a part of something special.”
Bethea is heading into his tenth NFL season, and his second with the San Francisco 49ers. A 5-foot-11 safety taken in the sixth round of the NFL draft, Bethea excelled at Howard University, earning first-team All-America honors. He says his main drive to create an event such as this was to say he didn’t succeed alone.
“My message to the kids is that you can’t do it without the community,” said Bethea, who’s totaled 18 interceptions in his career. “I grew up here, I went to this high school and that’s just my thing. I want to give back to the community and have everybody come out here and have a good time.
“Everybody does their thing to give back to the community and this is just my way of showing them I appreciate them for their support.”