C'MON! ENOUGH football questions. Ask me about life! Life questions!''
Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards (right) sat in the middle of 20 at-risk eighth-graders at the Clark School on Cleveland's west side. Edwards asked them what they wanted to do with their lives. "Join the Air Force," one boy said. "Maybe be a pilot."
"Great," Edwards said. "It's easy to say that, but are you willing to put forth the effort?" One of the NFL's rising stars, Edwards, 24, is doing his part. Last spring he pledged $1 million in college scholarships for 100 eighth-grade students in Cleveland if they maintain at least a 2.5 grade-point average in high school, work on approved community-service projects and attend academic and life-skills workshops. Edwards and his mother, Malesa Plater, read 1,500 applications, then selected the group, called the Advance 100. "Heartbreaking," Edwards says of the essays he read. "Story after story of kids who needed hope in their lives."
Kaleb Jarvis is a rail-thin freshman at Cleveland's John Hay High. One of 11 children in a family with unemployed parents, Jarvis was chosen after writing, "I want to be the child in my family to get us out [of poverty], and you do that through education.'' His grade-point average is 3.3, and he is determined to keep it up so he can qualify for the $10,000 in scholarship money available from Edwards's foundation.
"I used to think, Here I am, busting my butt in school, and no one notices," says Jarvis. "Braylon noticed. He's making all the difference in the world to me and my family.'' And to 99 others.