The best thing a pro athlete can do for their community is use their platform to make a real difference. That’s exactly what Ravens offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman and his wife Nikki are doing in the Baltimore area.
Bradley and Nikki appeared on the TODAY show Saturday morning to discuss their philanthropic efforts, which include a pledge to end childhood hunger and mitigate bullying. Both said they dealt with bullying while growing up.
“Yeah we do [have a massive platform], and that’s what we do it for, that’s our driving force to help all these people,” Bozeman said to NBC’s Peter Alexander. “You never know who’s looking up to you. You never know what kid is looking at you for guidance.”
The Bradley and Nikki Bozeman Foundation, which started back when Bradley was an O-lineman for the University of Alabama’s historic program, has a dual effort to “stamp out bullying behaviors” and provide “direct material support to children, families, and seniors in need” with regards to hunger. According to the foundation’s website, almost two million meals have been distributed to hungry households since July 2020.
“We want to help kids, we want to feed kids, we want to teach kids that are going through adversity how to deal with that and how to cope,” Bradley said. “So we want to use the platform that we’re given to do good.”
Though Bozeman makes his living on muscling extremely large men on the gridiron, he was the victim of bullying as a kid, which is why he is so passionate about the foundation's mission. He was six feet, 260 pounds in sixth grade, he said.
“I was like Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Bozeman said. “I was an outcast. I had reading disabilities. I had these different things about me that I struggled with and I was insecure about, but I used those to my advantage … to turn something that was turned negatively towards me into something positive.”
Bradley’s wife Nikki, who herself was bullied growing up as well, notes that one thing in particular is at the core of the foundation’s purpose.
“Changing. Changing the culture, changing a narrative, changing the community,” Nikki said, who met Bradley when she was a center on the Crimson Tide basketball team. “We’re trying to bridge the gap when it comes to education, when it comes to food. They can’t go to school with hungry bellies, so you have to feed them.”
Though Bradley is on one of the NFL’s best offensive line units, he knows that his impact on Baltimore extends far beyond what he might accomplish in the pros.
“What we accomplish off the field is so much greater than what we’ll ever do on the field,” Bradley said. “This is just a sport, it’s a game. We’re combatting more than just football here. We’re trying to really help our community and bring them up.”
To learn more about Bradley and Nikki’s foundation, and how to contribute, visit their website here.