Jabari Davis, Devrin Young team up to spread Christmas cheer to kids

In the weeks since Tennessee's season-ending loss at Kentucky, former Vol Jabari Davis had his fill of the negative chatter that seemingly engulfed the program.

Accompanied by freshman running back Devrin Young and a support system of friends and colleagues at Patria Foster Care Center, Davis did his best Sunday to shift that focus to the opposite end of the spectrum. The "J-Train" helped make Christmas come one week early for 34 foster children, whose ages ranged from tots to teens, as he emceed an early-evening dinner that ended with gifts galore.

"If you look in the media and look on TV, everything is all dramatic about Tennessee football. Dooley this, Dooley that," said Davis, who was UT's go-to tailback near the goal line in a college career that ended in 2004.

"It's about the kids. Let's not focus on Tennessee football and what the dramatic season they had and let's focus on the holidays and most importantly giving these kids some gifts and bring some smiles on their faces."

Motivated by his grandmother, who died last year after a battle with cancer, Davis said the event came together in a matter of three weeks. He'd put together similar charitable events in his native Atlanta, but this was his first in Knoxville.

He doesn't plan for it to be the last.

"As long as I see kids doing things the right way and keeping themselves on track when the world is so cruel and corrupted," Davis said. "A lot of these foster kids, they're not making excuses. I know they can't control where they came from. They're wonderful kids and let's reward the kids."

For Young, joining up with a player he grew up watching for such a cause was a "no-brainer."

The UT running back of the past and the UT running back of the present/future met during the early part of the season.

Knowing that Young didn't have a bowl game on his schedule and wasn't going anywhere outside the city for Christmas vacation, Davis said he knew the former Bearden High star had no choice but to help by autographing footballs, basketballs or whatever else the children wanted signed by their "hometown hero."

"It's definitely more cheerful knowing that you're giving back and helping others and not just thinking about yourself," Young said.

Young and Davis both canvassed the room while the children tore into their allotted stacks of presents. The gifts, whose purchases were supplemented by donations from a number of local businesses, ranged from stuffed gorillas, to bicycles and board games.

When he wasn't signing footballs or mingling with the children, Young was snapping photos with his phone.

"A lot of kids know him and a lot of kids don't know who I am," Davis said. "I don't mind that because I played going on seven, eight years ago. He can draw some kids in and we can link together.

"We still got that bond that we both played at Tennessee and we both played running back. Link together and make something happen. Not just this year but let's do it every year."

Davis, who just wrapped up his second year as the coach at Episcopal School, is set to graduate from UT with a degree in sociology either by the end of spring semester or midway through the summer. He said he's unsure where he'll reside during the next stage of his career, but if it's anywhere close to Knoxville, he assured there would be more events like Sunday's — no matter the time of year.

"As long as I'm here," Davis said, "I'm going to do a lot for the community."

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 23

LiveFaith writes:

That puts some things in perspective. J-train was not the greatest UT back of all time, but is showing some strong character. Thanks.

Down_The_Field writes:

i like em both.

better than scoring a TD.

Mtnbiker writes:

Might not win games, but that's how you WIN hearts and minds. 100% WINNERS

Thank you Gentlemen, Merry Christmas!

TommyJack writes:

good stuff

VOODOOley-2011 (Inactive) writes:

Thanks Jabari, you're doing well son.

Bubba_Knows writes:

J Train does good! Real good! And thank you too Devrin Young.

eprahm (Inactive) writes:

in response to Down_The_Field:

i like em both.

better than scoring a TD.

Well said!!!

iowavol writes:

good positive story. Good role models as well. Everyone, including us posters, can do the same thing. Let's go...

ROCKYTOPBRAD writes:

Good job guys.

troubleinc writes:

Way to go guys!

Ayres_Hall writes:

How long before the idiots arrive to attack Jabari Davis and the football program?

Good story. Proves VFL is effective.

jimr07 writes:

in response to Ayres_Hall:

How long before the idiots arrive to attack Jabari Davis and the football program?

Good story. Proves VFL is effective.

Give 'em time. I am sure they will show up. The nattering nabobs of negativity are not far behind.

DeeBee writes:

Finally! Something positive from UT football. Thank you Mr. Davis, Devron Young, and all the others that might not have been mentioned.

voloffaith writes:

in response to jimr07:

Give 'em time. I am sure they will show up. The nattering nabobs of negativity are not far behind.

No I think the negativisers give it a rest on this one with CHRISTmas less than a week away. They have more than enuff other articles to spread their cheer on if they so choose. Congrats gentlemen for choosing to be blessings rather being being blessed out for poor choices!

illinoisvolfan writes:

Great example that Jabari and Devrin are setting. Maybe some of the other alleged self-centered players can learn from this. Couldn't hurt...

givehim6 writes:

I like this nice CHRISTmas message plus old Vol blood getting with new Vol blood. Now we need Maning and Wilson to come in and buddy up with some of the new kids.

voloffaith writes:

in response to givehim6:

I like this nice CHRISTmas message plus old Vol blood getting with new Vol blood. Now we need Maning and Wilson to come in and buddy up with some of the new kids.

Think they would let them join raindear games?

Speled that way onn perpus y'all. Lighten up(not Francis) and tell someone you love just that! Merry CHRISTmas! Wise men still seek HIM.....

OrangePsyched writes:

Great story. Thanks guys for giving of yourselves.

Bigger_Al writes:

'Tis the season to be pleasin'. Well done.

nfdeng13 writes:

Great to see two "Vols For Life" out representing the program in the community. Young men with that mentality always succeed in life. On or off the field. GBO!

ncvol17 writes:

I always liked Jabari Davis, good to see he is doing well and is a VFL. Well Done young man

RashaadSalabeb writes:

Jabari and Devron, you both are doing great things! Keep up the good work and get others involved. It can get bigger every year.

Go Vols!

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

I guess GVX takes the week of Christmas off. Otherwise, they would know that today was signing day for JUCO. We lost Otis Jacobs to TAMU today. Is that not news?????????

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