Baltimore Ravens' Jameel McClain 

His Path to the NFL Included Help from Salvation Army 



As a five-year NFL linebacker, 27-year-old Jameel McClain will take part in his first ever Super Bowl game this Sunday with his team, the Baltimore Ravens. According to a recent article on, McClain’s path to the NFL wasn’t easy.

Growing up in North Philadelphia, McClain and his family experienced periods of homelessness in which he, his mother and three siblings turned to The Salvation Army for food and shelter. At one point, the McClain family lived in a Salvation Army shelter for a year before bouncing around between homes.

“Nobody likes it easy,” McClain said. “But I’ll tell you what, I’ve never had it easy.”

McClain used his experience at The Salvation Army to help build the foundation for his future. He earned a scholarship from Syracuse University to play football and then jumped at the opportunity to show the Ravens that he deserved to be a member of their team by being the only undrafted rookie free agent to make their roster in 2008.

"My life has been one boxing match after another," McClain says. "No matter what gets thrown at me, I keep fighting."

On top of his professional achievements, McClain’s personal life involves charitable work with The Salvation Army Baltimore Area Command by kicking off the city’s Red Kettle Campaign and packaging Christmas gifts for distribution along with teammates.

McClain isn’t the only professional athlete with a Salvation Army past. Alfred Morris and Emmitt Smith both got their start playing youth football with Salvation Army teams in Pensacola, FL, while Felix Jones and Robert Meachem played with The Salvation Army North Mabee Boys & Girls Club “Mabee Babies” team in Tulsa, OK.

To learn more about youth programs in your area, visit

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