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Pitt Football Legend Aaron Donald Hosts Fourth Annual Free Youth Football Camp



Pitt legend and Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald hosted his fourth annual Living in the Pocket Skills Camp

Pitt football legend Aaron Donald continues to make his presence known throughout the Pittsburgh community in a variety of ways.

He hosted his fourth annual “Living in the Pocket Skills Camp” at Highmark Stadium on Saturday, which is a free football camp for boys and girls aged six to 18 years old. The camp sold out its allotted capacity within two hours, with attendees coming from eight different states and the District of Columbia.

Donald loves hosting his annual camp. He sees it as an opportunity for help motivate kids not just on the football field, but in life overall and also just to allow those kids see who he is as a person off the field.

“It’s just a fun day,” Donald said on his camp. “It’s fun to be around these kids and not just teach them football, but to interact with them. They get to see me as a person, joking and playing around with them outside and just being myself.”

Donald worked with 2Tenths Speed and Agility Training staff to coach the attendees in a variety of drills. This included drills that focused on footwork, hand placement, route running, throwing, position work, conditioning and many more.

Members of Aaron Donald’s family joined him to help with the camp, including Panthers redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Elliott Donald, who is Aaron’s nephew.

Donald grew up in the City of Pittsburgh and lived in the Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar neighborhood in the northeast corridor. He sees this camp as opportunity, not just to give back to the community, but also to

“It’s a blessing,” Donald said. “Being a kid that grew up in the inner city, to be where I’m at today and to have the opportunity to come back and be able to motivate so many. So many kids look up to me. To be able to be a role model and for them to see me as a person. It’s huge.”

The work that goes into hosting this camp is thanks in large part to Aaron Donald’s foundation, named AD99 Solutions Foundation. The mission of the foundation, “is to change the trajectory of Pittsburgh’s most vulnerable youth by providing necessary resources in a free, safe environment where they can be empowered to excel academically, socially, and athletically.”

Donald worked with kids throughout the day to improve on their skills through drills, but also made sure to talk with them and make them feel welcome at the camp.

“Football is a sport, but everything is so much bigger than football obviously,” Donald said. “It goes into work ethic, discipline, to teamwork. Things that you need in life, period. It’s big to be able to be around these kids and let them know, obviously, we’re talking football, we’re having fun working with football, but it’s so much bigger than sports. To be able to do that and talk about mental health, things I did with my foundation, it’s been huge.”

Donald attended Pitt from 2010-13 and starred in his final season, earning unanimous All-American honors and ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He also secured the Bronco Nagurski Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award for best defensive player, the Lombardi Award for the player who embodies the spirit of Hall of Fame head coach Vince Lombardi, and the Outland Trophy for best interior lineman.

Pitt has improved as a team since Donald left, with the team winning the ACC Championship in 2021 and finishing with back-to-back seasons ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since the early 1980s. Donald is proud of the program’s growth since his departure, and even gifted a seven-figure donation to the program to open the Aaron Donald Performance Center at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the Southside where Pitt trains.

“I’m a proud Pitt man,” Donald said. “I train down there during the offseason. I’m around a lot of Pitt guys. So to see all the success that Pitt’s having and guys going first round and getting drafted, that’s huge and I’m just proud.”

The St. Louis Rams drafted Donald in the First Round of the 2014 NFL Draft with the No. 13 pick and he has served as their greatest ever player in franchise history, particularly with the move to Los Angeles in 2015. He has made nine consecutive Pro Bowls, earned seven consecutive First-Team All-Pro honors from 2015-21, won three NFL Defensive Player of the Year Awards and is a member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team.

Many consider Donald to be one of the greatest defensive lineman in the history of football. This is even more impressive considering that he is “undersized” for his position, standing at just 6-foot-1.

The disadvantages that Donald faced throughout his life have never stopped him from achieving his goals. He continues to host his camp and meet with kids around the area to remind them that they can too achieve their goals in life, regardless if it is in the game of football or not.

“Just keep working,” Donald said. “Just keep playing. It’s just a game at the end of the day. Obviously you’re going to have negative things said about you, positive things, but just stay on course. Continue to work. Continue to put a body of work in. Stay focused. Hard work always pays off and if you continue to just do the game you love and play at a high level, everything will take care of itself from there.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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