FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Since Jessie Bates III began his career in the NFL, he knew he wanted to give back to kids like him coming from a single-parent household.
When he was drafted in 2018, Bates and his mother, Theresa, had a discussion about how they wanted to impact the community. Thus, the JB3 Single Mother's Initiative was born.
"It's always near and dear to my heart," Bates said. "I know how important it is to support to the single moms."
Now, that impact reaches the Atlanta area.
Bates pledged to donate $1 million over the four years of his contract to organizations supporting single mothers in Atlanta and his hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind., when he signed with the Falcons this offseason.
Solomon's Temple in South Atlanta is one that matches Bates' mission. The organization describes itself as a "holistic homeless shelter" for single mothers. According to Solomon's Temple, 40 percent of those experiencing homelessness in Atlanta are single mothers. The organization's aim is to treat the root causes of homelessness and help families overcome the challenging period.
Bates and teammates Tyler Allgeier and Micah Abernathy visited with families at the shelter Monday ahead of the Falcons game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"I can take a couple of hours out of my day to just impact some kids and their moms, show appreciation for them," Bates said. "It's just really cool to see somebody that has a similar story."
Allgeier also has a similar story to Bates.
"He came from a single mom and so that hit deep for him, but I also came from a single mom," Allgeier said. "It hit (me) inside as well."
It's not something Allgeier was aware of when they first became teammates. Now that they've bonded over that shared experience, Allgeier hopes to join Bates on more of his initiative's journey.
The players engaged with the mothers and children to learn about their stories. They also passed out food and hung out with the kids.
Allgeier enjoyed spending time with the children because he said he's really good with kids so it was easy to connect with them.
"Seeing the smiles on their faces," Allgeier said. "it was awesome."
One young girl started to tear up when the Falcons players had to leave. That left an impact on Allgeier, he made it a point to give her a hug before they left.
It struck Bates that a girl who was told by doctors that she would never walk or talk came up to him and asked for his autograph. He then learned more about her and her mother's story.
"A lot of kids, they just didn't believe it," Bates said of seeing the young shocked faces when the Falcons players arrived. "It was just a really humbling experience."
Bates has worked with multiple organizations to support single mothers, especially around the holidays. The veteran safety also often invites those families to attend games. Since Bates and his mother conceptualized the foundation, Theresa taken mothers out for meals and worked to stay involved.
This marked Bates' first event with his foundation since becoming a father himself. His first child, Jessie Bates IV, was born and deepened his perspective on his own childhood.
Stepping into fatherhood, he's able to see even more how important it is for a child to have that experience.
"It's like, 'Hey, I'm that guy now,'" Bates said. "I can write my own story of how I want to raise my own child."
This Throwback Thursday, we're taking at look back at the Falcons vs Jaguars match-up through history as we gear up for Sunday's game against the Jags in Week 4.