BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Thanksgiving is Mario Addison’s favorite holiday and he believes there’s no better way to celebrate than to give back.
“I love Thanksgiving. You can tell because I’m a big guy. When I was growing up here in Vice Hill, we used to go around the neighborhood and eat everyone’s food like a big family, so the least I can do is give back to where it all started at,” Addison said.
The Carolina Panthers linebacker and former Troy University and Tarrant High School football star gave away 300 turkeys to families in need Tuesday afternoon in the Vice Hill and Smithfield communities in Birmingham.
“It’s a great thing, it’s a really great thing that he gives back. We all need it, some of us really need it,” said Vice Hill resident Stephanie Collins.
This is Addison’s third year to hold his turkey giveaway, but this Thanksgiving will be an emotional one for him and his family as it will be the first one without his little brother, Gjamal Antonio Rodriqcus, who was shot and killed in October.
“It’s emotional. Right now, he’s living through us. It’s going to be very emotional for not only me, but for my family and other people, too. This whole community was outraged about what happened, but right now my emotions are just all over the place, and I’m taking it one day at a time,” Addison said.
But it’s those emotions that have motivated Addison on the field since his brother’s passing. Addison leads the Panthers with eight sacks this season. He will become a free agent at the end of the year and needs re-signing.
“I’m playing with a chip on my shoulder. Right now, I’m sitting at eight sacks, we have five games left and my goal is to get 10-plus sacks,” Addison said.
With the way he’s playing, he can definitely get there. But he says he’s already accomplished one of his goals and that’s celebrating the life of his brother by giving back to other families in need.