NFL stars White, Fitzgerald see Charleston turning tragedy into ‘a positive’

Roddy White works with campers Wednesday at his Keeping the Faith Foundation football camp on James Island. Leroy Burnell/Staff

Professional athletes from all over the sports world have sent messages of hope and support for the Lowcountry as the area continues to heal from the killing of nine church members at Emanuel AME church a week ago.

Two of the NFL’s top wide receivers — Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons and Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals — are in town as part of White’s Keeping the Faith Foundation football camp on James Island.

White, a James Island native, admits shock and disbelief when he heard the story while speaking to his mother on the phone last week.

“It was a tough,” said White. “I was in Atlanta and was talking a lot to my mother and its hard to believe it was happening here in Charleston. It’s good to see the people coming together after such a tragedy and to see them move forward and turn it into a positive.”

White said he’s not surprised the Lowcountry responded in such a positive way. White said he’s always known that people of the Lowcountry take care of each other. He lived through Hurricane Hugo as a child.

“I’ve been around here for 30-plus years and every time something happens, the community comes together,” he said. “Sometimes bad things happen but we all have learned to see the positives. This community will learn from this and we will be better.”

Fitzgerald arrived in town on Wednesday morning and was interested to know as many details of the shooting as he could get. He also learned a lot about the strength of the Charleston community.

“Not being here and just watching the news, we’re not really in touch with what is truly going on here,” he said. “Riding over today in the taxi and hearing the driver talk about his community and how he grew up here and how he saw this community come together as one, it was great to hear.

“The whole situation left some scars, and people hurt, but it seems like everyone is pulling together and making a positive out of a bad situation. Obviously it was a tremendous tragedy but we all have to grow and learn from it. It says a lot about the type of people that live here.”