For years, Tevin Coleman wanted to fly to the West African country of Liberia, where his mother and father were born, and where his great, great grandfather, William D. Coleman, served as the nation's president from 1896-1900.
No longer encumbered by schoolwork or NFL Draft prep, the Falcons running back finally got a chance to visit his homeland this spring on a two-week mission trip, during which he traveled to Liberia and Ghana as part of The Joseph Assignment Global Initiative, created to enhance poverty-stricken areas of the world.
Coleman spoke to students at a Liberian school that had been rebuilt following two civil wars. He opened up water wells to give locals safe drinking water. He saw children who had lost their parents deal with the kind of adversity seldom found in the United States. And he gained the kind of perspective not found on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.
"It was an awesome experience for Tevin and the children in Ghana and Liberia to meet a professional American football player," said Rev. Dr. Alexis Felder, the initiative's founder, according to ESPN's Vaughn McClure. "Tevin is a faithful donor to the Joseph Assignment Global Initiative and immediately started to give to the poor once he became an NFL player. He knows he is blessed to be a blessing."
Joining Coleman on the trip was his dad, his brother and the pastor from his church in Chicago. In addition to helping those in need, he was able to visit his ancestors' grave site and learn about the series of events that brought his family to North America.
"It was a struggle, but my father came to the U.S. for college and came down to try and get his education and make a better life for himself," Coleman said. "He succeeded in that, and I'm glad for him.
"Everything I have and that my parents gave me, I'm so blessed. That's why I'm doing this. Why not give to people who don't have it? That's what I like to do."