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Former Tech great LaAdrian Waddle’s genuine mission to give back, and how it all started

How the two-time Super Bowl champ and former All-Big 12 lineman is making an impact on veterans, first responders and underprivileged youth.

NFL: SEP 23 Patriots at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of the things that separates Texas Tech from other institutions is the quality of human beings it seems to produce at stunningly consistent rates, from the average student to the All-Big 12 offensive linemen that come through the football program.

LaAdrain Waddle is no exception - in fact, he embodies the Texas Tech ideal that being an altruistic, benevolent person matters infinitely more than any athletic achievements (though he’s not short on those, either).

So it should hardly come as a surprise to anyone who knows Waddle personally or anyone who’s spent an hour in Lubbock, Texas, that he and his wife, Shelby, started a foundation to give back to the community - primarily veterans, first responders and underprivileged youth.

“It’s just something that we felt was near and dear to our hearts, and something that we could get behind and support 100 percent,” Waddle said. “We were just at a point where we felt like we could get more involved in giving back and helping the community. That’s something we were always thinking about, and we had ideas in our head that we would do things to give back and help out kids. That was the start of it, and it grew into something bigger, and here we are now with the foundation.”

A two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, Waddle signed with the Buffalo Bills in March of last year. Three months later, he and his wife established the Waddle’s Warriors Foundation and started finding ways to give back.

On Veteran’s Day, Waddle’s foundation partnered with a salon in Buffalo to give free haircuts, massages and a day of relaxation for veterans in the area, concluding the day with a dinner for the veterans and their families.

“That’s just where the majority of our appreciation goes,” Waddle said. “Veterans do so much for us and give us such opportunities to do the things we do and for me to do what I do. That’s just something that we want to show appreciation for.”

LaAdrian’s wife, Shelby, handles most of the day-to-day operations for Waddle’s Warriors, and she and LaAdrian draw inspiration from her father, a former police officer in the Detroit-metro area for 35 years.

“That was part of the reason why we chose what we chose,” LaAdrian said. “We appreciate what officers go through and we understand they have a tough job, especially nowadays. That went into including the first responders. They go through a lot, they help people on the daily. We feel like good, hard-working people like that should be appreciated.”

LaAdrian and Shelby have always had a desire to give back, volunteering at elementary schools dating back to Waddle’s time in Detroit.

Waddle’s Warriors will follow LaAdrian to whichever team and city he plays for throughout the remainder of his career, but after he retires, they’ll make the DFW area the foundation’s permanent home. Waddle still lives in the area during the offseason, and makes sure to come out to Tech’s spring game at the Star in Frisco when he gets the chance. He said it’s been a while since he’s been to Lubbock, but he still follows the Red Raiders to the best of his ability and believes Matt Wells can be the coach to resurrect the program.

“I’ve heard good things about him as a person,” Waddle said. “This year, obviously things didn’t translate as well as you would want them to on the field, but I think they’re heading in the right direction. They have the right pieces in place to improve and really turn this thing around.”

While Wells does his best to turn things around on the field, Waddle will continue to try and make improvements in his community. His foundation is young, but growing steadily thanks to his and Shelby’s earnest efforts to do good for some of society’s most heroic and most vulnerable citizens.

“We are doing things for people we feel are really deserving of the things that we’ve ended up being able to do for them,” Waddle said. “We just want to help as many people as we can and do as much for other people as we can while we’re here.”

For more information on the Waddle’s Warriors Foundation, check out their website. They also have hats, shirts and other merchandise if you’re interested in supporting their mission.