TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Like every season since he entered the league, Mike Evans has been a servant to the Tampa Bay community, as well as his hometown of Galveston, Texas, this past year. His big event this year was a golf tournament that benefitted his Mike Evans Family Foundation. At the tournament, he presented a check for $25,000 in scholarships for students in need to attend the University of South Florida. To further his foundation's mission of serving students from low-income families in need of financial assistance in order to empower, encourage and motivate today's youth, he also set up a $40,000 endowment fund to his alma mater, Texas A&M, this past spring. In addition to the efforts with his foundation, Mike is always supporting Buccaneer and teammate-led initiatives in Tampa Bay. He donated $10,000 to quarterback Jameis Winston's Dream Forever Foundation during his Night to Achieve Dreams event in September. He also made a significant donation to the Bucs' annual Cut for a Cure event that benefits the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
Dating back to last season, Mike has participated and hosted even more community events in the Tampa Bay area, especially. During the holidays, he hosts his Catch for Christmas week, which includes multiple events aimed at raising money for domestic violence victims and further fund college scholarships for students in need. In 2018, he hosted a celebrity bowling tournament and then hosted a youth flag football team who had gotten good grades off the field at the team's training facility. Waiting there for them were not only Mike and his wife Ashli, but a Christmas tree filled with presents underneath – including a new gaming console package – for each of the children. Speaking of gaming, what sets Mike apart is not only his community initiatives with his foundation and his support of team-led events. It's his willingness to help out at the drop of a hat for anyone in need. Following the shooting at the Jacksonville Landing during a Madden 19 tournament, he raised money for the victims by soliciting donations through a game of Madden with a tournament survivor. On Twitter, Mike heard about a family in Port St. Lucie, Florida, that was awarded just $4 in a wrongful death suit and he contributed $11,000 to help cover funeral costs and the financial burden the family was facing. He heard about a former classmate of his who was accidentally shot on Easter Sunday and donated $10,000 to help cover medical costs. Currently, he has begun covering the legal fees of individuals who are incarcerated for minor crimes, like traffic citations, because they cannot afford to pay them. Mike got involved in this initiative after a meeting with the NFL Player's Coalition and former NFL star Anquan Boldin and the money comes out of his own pocket – not his foundation.
The passion Mike has for helping people stems from his childhood. His mother was a victim of domestic violence and during an E:60 profile on ESPN, he told the story of his father, who was murdered by his mom's brother, when he was just nine years old. Mike attributes his ability to overcome a childhood filled with nearly insurmountable adversity to all the help he and his family received growing up. "I just wanted to help, ever since I was a kid," he said. "I've always been a giving person. That comes from my mom and I was blessed with people to help me out. A lot of people helped me, and my mom had people helping her – so, some people just need an extra push in life and now I want to be the one to give that to them. "In a way, helping others, it's like paying those people back," he continued. "I want to give off that positive energy." Mike isn't alone in his efforts, either. His wife, Ashli, is right by his side for all of their community efforts these days. He says she loves interacting with kids and helping others as much as he does. They regularly visit community centers together and have met with victims of domestic violence at women's shelters both in Tampa and in Texas. "It means a lot," he said of his wife's support. "She has as much joy in it, I guess that's why were so compatible. We both have interest in helping others. She's learned a lot about foundations and is a huge part of it."
Mike is a big supporter of his wife, Ashli, who runs her own blog and is currently pregnant with their second child. He constantly hypes her up on social media and walks around the halls at the training facility announcing her new blog posts. He is also committed to his fans, always staying after for autographs and pictures. He places a big emphasis on interacting with his supporters, going beyond the aforementioned autographs and pictures to have conversations with them and take advantage of the time he does have to spend with them. His ultimate goal for his Mike Evans Family Foundation is to 'send a lot of kids to college,' recognizing that many students who work hard aren't as fortunate as he was to get an athletic scholarship. He knows the importance of a college education, not just for a degree but for the networking and experience gained. He believes that if students work hard, they should be afforded an education and has made it his personal mission to give back to those students through his foundation, while also passing on his affinity for helping people to the next generation. "The goal is to become a really great foundation," he said. "I want it to become something that my kids can carry on the legacy."