Former Auburn safety Tray Matthews was one of several college football players who stepped up to support a bullying victim in Pell City, Ala. On Tuesday, the 13-year-old girl that Matthews helped reached out to show her appreciation.
Matthews, along with other players such as Auburn wide receiver Darius Slayton and Ole Miss guard Javon Patterson, recorded videos of themselves addressing the seventh grader, who was a victim of cyberbullying at her school, as well as those who bullied her.
The group of athletes were alerted to the situation by Rachel Baribeau, whose program Changing the Narrative works to “change the narrative of college sports” through empowering and educating student-athletes.
For the sake of privacy, the girl’s name as well as the names of those who bullied her were not published.
“I’m sorry that that happened,” Matthews said in his video. “I honestly don’t know why kids pick on other kids when we’re all created the same — in God’s image. I saw a picture of you, and you’re very beautiful.
“Please don’t get down about what others say about you. I’ve had multiple incidents where people said things about me in middle school (and) high school. I’m about to go play in the NFL, and people still talk about me.”
Baribeau relayed the story to GridironNow Tuesday in a post that included the videos the players created. Later that day, Matthews shared a direct message from the girl, who expressed her appreciation to Matthews on Feb. 7.
“You may not ever see this, but I wanna thank you about the video you sent about the boys bullying me. I never thought a famous football player from Auburn would notice me,” the girl tweeted to Matthews. “I almost started crying because I’ve been bullied a lot and you have no idea how thankful I am ... You literally changed my life, and thank you.”
Matthews’ message had a strong effect on the bullying victim, as did her response to his good deed.
“What that lil girl sent me was priceless,” Matthews tweeted. “Kinda feels better than any football play I ever made in my life.”
Jordan D. Hill: 770-894-9818, @lesports