by Ann Brown
The news is usually loaded with drama-filled stories about Black athletes, but Tim Wright is disproving the stereotype. The celebrated tight end, who recently joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from the New England Patriots, is creating a more positive image of the African-American baller.
He recently launched the Timothy Wright Foundation to make effective change for today’s youth. Through the foundation, Wright is promoting the concept the scholar athlete.
“I come from a community where you have to work hard for what you get. There were a lot of people who were instrumental in getting me to where I am today. With that, I felt there was an obligation to give back by giving kids a platform for success and advancement,” says Wright, who was born and raised in New Jersey.
This star athlete, husband and father launched the foundation in May and already has an array of events and activities planned, including The Wright Way Academy to provide academic and athletic instruction/support to underprivileged children and youth. The academy will host “The Wright Way” football camps (which will feature 101 academic and football sessions); “The Wright Swing Golf Tournament” (which will raise money and awareness for the advancement of inner city youth); and the “Wright Cut Hair Extravaganza” (which will provide haircuts and shaves to the needy and homeless).
The first ever camp event, Friday Night Lights Camp By Tim Wright” will take place on June 26 at the Wall Knights Complex in Wall Township, NJ. At the event, young football players into contact with NFL pros, not only to learn about the game, but to learn about life as a scholar athlete. Ages 7-18 will participate in the camp Mohamed Sanu (Cincinnati Bengals), Ka’lial Glaud (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Brandon Jones (Free Agent), Quron Pratt (Philadelphia Eagles), Andrew Opoku (Baltimore Ravens), Duron Harmon (New England Patriots), James Develin (New England Patriots),free agent Marvin Booker and local community leaders will be on hand.
“The Foundation is instrumental in reverting the focus of our youth. It is a dedication to creating a platform and opportunities for the kids of our future,” explains Wright. The foundation will incorporate all the cities in Monmouth County, New Jersey to start with. “I want to create a model that will eventually become accessible internationally,” says Wright, who was raised in Neptune, NJ, and had always been an overall overachiever both in sports and in academics. As a child, he ran Track & Field, and he played soccer, basketball and football.
When he turned seven, Wright joined a Neptune Pop–Warner football team. In high school he continued to play, leading to his college career. Ranked in the top 10 high school football players in the state of NJ,, he also maintained high honors and accumulated over a dozen scholarship offers to Division 1 schools. In 2008, Wright started college at Rutgers University on a full scholarship. He ended his Rutgers football career with 50 catches, for 596 yards and 4 touchdowns. On top of this, he graduated with high honors and won numerous Big East academic awards, majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in Sociology.
But when it came time to begin his pro career, he hit a major snag. In 2013, he was shocked when he was not picked as a high draft choice. Actually, he was not picked at all. But Wright wasn’t about to give up. He later tried out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and was picked as a walk-on free agent, wide receiver for the Buccaneers. Soon after joining the Buccaneers, Wright was switched to tight end where he caught 54 passes, for 571 yards and 5 touchdowns. At the end of the 2013 season, he was # 1 among Rookie Tight Ends in Catches, Yards and Touchdowns. And he set the record for most touchdowns by a rookie tight end in Tampa Buccaneers franchise history.
He was traded to the New England Patriots in 2014, and is not set to return to the Buccaneers for the upcoming season.
Besides making football history, he wants to truly help the kids in his community and looks to build his foundation. “I want all the efforts of my partners and me to collaborate and create a platform for our youth to advance through all the various events that will take place this calendar year,” he reveals. “My long-term goal is to produce a facility where all the aspects of a kid’s life can be organized in one facility, such as academics, athletics, nutrition, financial management and crime prevention.”
(There is also a column on Wright by Brown for the 6/26/15 Network Journal)