THE IDEA was hatched together the St. Luigi Rams" team bus inched v a rugged component of downtown St. Louis, and, like countless of the plans wilhelm Hayes and also Chris long come increase with, the wasn"t taken really seriously. Hayes and also Long are the team"s jokesters, bantering about everything native the existence of mermaids to opening a plus-size yoga studio.
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But this conversation to be different. From their comfortable seats in the bus, they witnessed homeless human being on the streets, and also Hayes turned come Long and also asked the if he thought they might handle living prefer that. Hayes had been moved by the plight of the homeless since his job in Tennessee once he befriended a guy who panhandled near the Titans" exercise facility. Top top the Rams" bus, Hayes told lengthy he want to experience what the was favor to it is in homeless and asked if lengthy would sign up with him.
They"d revolve in your cell phones and credit cards and also wander the roadways in sub-40-degree temperatures through no location to go. Long, one of the NFL"s deep thinkers, offered Hayes a funny look at first, however then he claimed yes.
"I wasn"t going come let him carry out that alone," lengthy says. "I"m sure he wouldn"t allow me, either."
Rams DEs wilhelm Hayes and Chris long went undercover to raise awareness of a life most people ignore.Courtesy that St. Louis RamsTHEY are BEST friend with tiny in common, aside from the truth that they room both substantial 30-year-old males who play protective end. Chris Long has actually never want for anything. His mom is a retirement lawyer and his father is Howie Long, a hall of Fame protective end. Quickly after Howie"s job ended, he moved his family from Los Angeles come a 65-acre spread out in Virginia because they had the means to live anywhere, and this appeared the many peaceful ar to settle in. Chris inherited numerous of his father"s athletic gifts, dominated in college at the college of Virginia, and also was picked second overall in the 2008 draft.
Hayes wasn"t invited to the NFL combine earlier in "08, and also it was a surprise when the Titans selected the unknown lineman from Winston-Salem State in the 4th round. Together his parental scrimped to remain afloat, his childhood was full of nos: No, that couldn"t have the toy the wanted, and also no, this invoice couldn"t be paid on time. But Hayes had a roof end his head and food in his belly. He was happy. He was showered with love, and also never felt together if he was missing anything. It wasn"t until Hayes to be older the he realized just how much his family really struggled.
The thing Hayes love most about Long is that he never ever acted favor a man who had everything. "Treat the bellman the exact same as you treat the chairman of the unified States," Howie long used to tell his three boys, hoping that privilege wouldn"t affect the method they acted toward others.
Long"s mom, Diane, always called her child an old soul. He has a bucket list, climbed mount Kilimanjaro, and also started a project to help carry out clean water to the underprivileged in eastern Africa. The has always seen the world differently. However he had no proviso what sort of challenges the homeless face.
For the previous several years, the Rams" defensive line has actually donated $1,000 because that every bag to the St. Patrick Center, a local homeless resource. Long had never visited the center.
Meanwhile, Hayes came to be a regular. He take it a group of teenagers to the movies and also played bingo at the Rosati team Home, St. Patrick"s mental condition facility. This spring, Hayes treated about 15 homeless civilization to a enjoy the meal at golden Corral, an all-you-can-eat buffet.
"I"m informing you, you"d believed they"d died and went come heaven," claims Judson Bliss, chief routine officer at St. Patrick. "It"s very rare for these folks, so it was really special.
"We have actually a many of world who provide money come us, and that"s a great thing. Yet I think a lot of these social difficulties that us have, through homelessness and the violence, what it yes, really does take is human being being associated in various other people"s lives. That"s what makes a difference."
HAYES IS therefore entertaining that part say he deserves his very own reality show, and, sure enough, this had all the makings because that prime-time television. Long and also Hayes wore makeup, hats and also second-hand clothing to avoid being recognized. They were followed approximately by covert urbanbreathnyc.com cameras and were flanked by an off-duty police officer in case they ran into trouble.
Many of these details to be hammered out by Nicole Woodie, the Rams" neighborhood outreach manager. Woodie went to numerous thrift stores looking for clothes huge enough to fit 270- and 280-pound bodies. She climate distressed the clothes to make them look more lived-in, including dirt and holes.
Hayes and Long wore clothing that had been distressed to make it look much more lived-in.Courtesy of St. Luigi RamsLong and also Hayes took to the highways on the afternoon of march 22, Hayes in floodwater pants too quick for his long legs; long with penciled-in wrinkles around his eyes. Though the forecast called for a fairly mild evening, the temperature dropped right into the 30s. In between them, Long and Hayes had actually $8 in your pockets.
Surprisingly, neither one to be recognized, also when castle panhandled for money come buy hamburgers just outside the Edward Jones Dome, their house on Sundays. When night fell, they sought a location to sleep. Long and also Hayes discovered warmth from a fire in a barrel, however were conveniently chased turn off by a scruffy middle-aged man who stated they were trespassing top top his space.
They came upon one empty box truck and slept in the back. It provided little warmth, and also Hayes couldn"t sleep.
"I wasn"t scared," that says, "but the was much more so the idea of not learning the next move. I"m trying to close mine eyes. We have actually a security guard with us, yet he was like, "If somebody really wanted to come in right here to elevator this point up to shoot every one of us and rob us, they might easily carry out it."
"Basically, I"m trying come sleep, yet I"m make the efforts to figure out what"s walking to it is in my next relocate in the morning. When you acquire up, it"s like, gosh, we"ve acquired nowhere to go."
They awoke simply after 5 a.m. It rained that morning, and also Long stated he was glad they were able to suffer the elements. Hayes wasn"t for this reason enthusiastic. Their experiment lasted around 24 hours. Then they hopped in a van and also toured the locations they"d gone the day before. Once they got to the exit warehouse wherein they"d gone to heat up near the fire, they come upon the male who ran them turn off the night before. His name is Marty.
Marty ran his own construction service once, yet then he separation up v his wife, acquired some DWIs and also couldn"t gain his driver"s license back. His life unraveled, and he wound up in the warehouse along with a homeless woman called Nancy, whom he to be trying come protect.
Hayes and Long were so moved by Marty"s story the they determined to put him and Nancy up in one extended-stay hotel for 2 months. Once Woodie come by to choose them up a couple of work later, Marty was surprised. He stated he didn"t think anyone would come back. So numerous times in their lives, nobody came back.
"It"s miscellaneous intangible," Woodie says. "It"s favor someone believes in them and has expect in them.
"We desire this to it is in the minute that alters their resides forever. Us hope that"s the case. We likewise know it can not be."
Hayes and also Long bought disposable cabinet phones for Marty and also Nancy and paid for groceries and also bus passes.
Marty found a project in building and construction recently; Nancy received aid through outreach support. Yet it"s far more facility than that. The worries that put them top top the roadways for years can"t be solved in two months.
Hayes is "absolutely" worried around them, the says. "I can"t adjust the world. They can relapse.
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"With Marty, I view he desires to make a difference. Ns feel choose he was getting exhausted of the way of living he was living."
WHEN HAYES CAME up with the idea because that this experiment, he did not desire cameras adhering to him and also Long. That didn"t want to do it look choose he was grandstanding or being fake. Yet both Woodie and the St. Patrick facility encouraged the to usage his communication to advanced awareness of homelessness.
When wilhelm Hayes came up v the idea of suffering the life the homelessness because that a night, Chris long agreed.Courtesy that St. Luigi Rams