One of D.C. most successful professional athletes and philanthropists recently got a unique honor — his own day.
City residents and leaders bestowed and celebrated “Vernon Davis Day” on Tuesday at Truesdell Education Center’s athletic field, with hundreds of students and members of the community observing the event.
Davis, a tight end for the Washington Redskins, sat on the stage next to his grandmother, Adaline Davis, as he took in the praise for his work and life.
“I cannot think of anymore more deserving of a day than Vernon Davis,” said Tony Wylie, Redskins senior vice president of communications. “We are so proud of you.”
D.C. Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), who represents Truesdell and Adaline Davis on the District’s legislative body, echoed Wyllie’s sentiments.
“Vernon Davis is a true hometown hero,” Todd said. “His story is stitched in the fabric of this community. He used that Ward 4 magic to create a lasting legacy.”
Davis attended Truesdell and then went to Paul Public Charter School before switching to MacFarland Middle School to play football. He went to Dunbar Senior High School, where he excelled in football and ultimately named the Gatorade Player of the Year for D.C. and playing in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Game his senior year in 2002.
Davis played football from 2003-2005 at the University of Maryland, where he was a consensus All-American and a finalist for the John Mackey Award, which recognizes the best collegiate tight end.
In 2006, the San Francisco 49ers selected him sixth overall in the NFL Draft. Davis inked a $23 million deal with the 49ers, the highest ever for a tight end at that time.
During the 2009 season, he earned his first Pro Bowl bid and in 2016 won a championship with the Denver Broncos. Davis joined the Redskins in 2016.
While a lot of attention has been focused on what Davis has done on the field, he has charities such as the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts that support art education and art appreciation among young people. He has a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, for which he raises funds with an annual “White Party” in the early summer.
Davis’s “Read 85” encourages young people to read and he donates books to District elementary schools. In addition, his “Vernon’s Closet” program gives away clothes to disadvantaged District residents.
Todd presented a ceremonial resolution from the council to Davis, as did Mayor Muriel Bowser (D).
“I am here to celebrate Adaline Davis for raising such as wonderful grandson,” Bowser said. “He is an exceptional athlete and exceptional man.”
Then to the cheers of the crowd, she declared March 12 “Vernon Davis Day.”
D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee called Davis “an example of hard work and dedication.”
“If you do that, you may have a day named after you,” Ferebee told the youths in attendance.
The Dunbar High School cheerleaders performed two cheers for their famous alum and the school’s athletic director, Henry Frazier, gave Davis a championship hat and a Dunbar polo shirt. Kevin Glover of the University of Maryland presented Davis with a black Terrapin football helmet.
Sportscaster and former Washington Redskins player Rick “Doc” Walker talked about observing Davis as a high school football player and watching him “evolve.”
“I’ve heard people say ‘Be like Mike,’ but I encourage you to ‘Be like Vernon,'” Walker said.
Davis expressed humility in receiving the recognition and the honors.
“I want to thank my family and friends for their support,” Davis said.
He humorously recalled his grandmother punishing him for bad behavior during his youth by not allowing him to go outside for five days, “and as a kid, you know that was something.”
He said paying attention in school taught him to be the “best on the field and in the classroom.”
Davis said he set a goal of being an NFL athlete and didn’t stop until he achieved what he set out to do. He also said that his greatest trait as a man “is treating people great.”
Davis said being a pro football player gave him a platform to help others.
“I have the power to inspire and empower others to make a difference and change the world,” he said.
While Davis spoke, the students listened with their eyes focused on him. Adaline Davis received flowers and gifts throughout the event.
A representative of the student body presented Davis a painting done by their classmates. Davis, in turn, presented Truesdell a check for $5,000 for its educational activities.