Perched on a ladder next to a handball court, David Long carefully painted a large maize-colored “M” on the wall. It was part of the logo for Michigan, where the rookie cornerback played in college before the Rams selected him in the third round of the NFL draft.
To Long’s right, running back Darrell Henderson stood on a riser painting the logo for Memphis, his alma mater.
Other Rams rookies on Friday also painted their college’s logos at Belvedere Elementary School in East Los Angeles, where the Rams’ conducted their annual community improvement project. More than 150 team employees, construction crews and volunteers installed new play structures, painted murals and completed other projects to beautify the campus.
“When I was young, I didn’t really know that many colleges,” Long said. “So it’s always good to open their minds and kick-start that thinking: ‘Maybe I want to go to college.’”
Since their return to Los Angeles 2016, the Rams held previous events at schools in Inglewood, Watts and South Los Angeles.
“My hope is that in four or five years, we’ll be able to drive around through a decade’s worth of school improvements and look at the change that the Rams organization was able to bring,” said Kevin Demoff, the Rams chief operating officer.
Molly Higgins, the Rams’ vice president of community affairs and engagement, said schools throughout the Southland are eligible to apply for the program. The Rams visit six or seven schools before making a final selection each year, she said.
Belvedere, which opened in 1912, won the Rams over because of its need, the passion of the administration, teachers, students and parents, and the school’s focus on character development, Higgins said.
Belvedere principal Beatriz Bogan said the playground and beautification would help “transform lives” of the students and the community.
“We believe that there’s a leader in each and every one of us, and that there’s a voice to be heard,” Bogan said. “So this is amazing.”
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