HOUSTON – Holding an autographed football at his locker, Texans linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill reflected on the meaning behind the signatures.
Grugier-Hill received a signed football from the Uvalde High School football team along with Texans coach Lovie Smith and linebacker Christian Kirksey after hosting them for a game against the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium and visiting the Coyotes in Uvalde.
The Texans, whose head athletic trainer and director of sports performance Roland Ramirez is from Uvalde, have also donated $400,000 to benefit the Robb School Memorial Fund to benefit families impacted by a school shooting that took the lives of 19 students and two teachers. I’m excited about this, it’s cool,” Grugier-Hill said of receiving the football following his interactions with the Uvalde players and coaches. ”To be able to go over there and put some joy into their lives and bring them out here and get to honor them at the game was awesome. I’m excited about that and blessed to be a part of their lives. I feel horrible for how those kids’ lives have changed so much. It’s special. There’s really no words for that.”
It was an extremely emotional day for the Uvalde football team Sunday at NRG Stadium.
The Coyotes, visited previously by the Texans at their team dinner and home football game and provided new uniforms by the Texans and Nike, were the guests of the AFC South football team and H-E-B in suites with transportation provided by the team and supermarket giant.
Uvalde coach Herb Miller and player Justyn Rendon said it was an incredible experience and they have all become converted Texans fans.
“It’s an unbelievable experience,” Miller said. “Just to see my guys’ faces, a lot of these guys have never been to an NFL game. To see their faces walking in and some of the people they’ve met, no words. It’s important to us. We all lost somebody or know somebody who lost somebody. We’re like the rest of the world.
“We just want to help in some way. It’s unbelievable. You live in a small Southwest Texas town, and to know that people care about us and want to know about our game, it’s unbelievable. The city of Houston with the Astros and Texans organizations have been unbelievable to us. It means the world.”
Rendon wears No. 21, and said it’s an honor to wear the number to recognize the 21 people who died at Robb Elementary this year.
“It means a lot to a lot of these guys just to get away from Uvalde in general,” Rendon said. “Just the feeling and joy of being here, a lot of these guys have never been to an NFL game like this. Honestly, it’s just unbelievable what the city of Houston has done for us. We couldn’t be more grateful.”
Kirksey led the effort for players donating over $200,000, which was matched by Cal and Hannah McNair.
“I can’t imagine taking my child to school where they’re supposed to be safe - that’s the safest place they could be - and you get a phone call from a principal or police officer saying there’s a shooting at the school,” Kirksey said in the wake of the shooting. “My heart goes out to all the parents and those families. No words can help the parents.
“They don’t have their children anymore. I’m a parent myself and I can’t imagine going through that and having to live with that the rest of my life, so I was definitely hurt by hearing that, and it’s in Texas, and that’s right down the road.”
Aaron Wilson is a Pro Football Network reporter and a contributor to KPRC 2 and click2houston.com