The overwhelming collective recollection of Dwayne Haskins since his sudden and tragic death over the weekend has been that of a generous and giving young man. Not a lot was talked about regarding his impact as a football player, and I’m not sure that would have been radically different even if he had been a three-year starter on a playoff team.
It’s just that it wasn’t who Haskins was to those who knew him—the people who have spent the past several days sharing their remembrances of him. The people telling us the man that most of us didn’t get to see, because it happened outside of the camera lens.
Head coach Mike Tomlin made a special point of mentioning Haskins’ presence outside of the building in his statement following the tragedy on Saturday, calling him “one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community”.
Brooke Pryor of ESPN detailed his extensive work with local Pittsburgh charities yesterday. He had only been with the Steelers since January of 2021, but he wasted no time planting his roots within the community, and not just because he hoped to make it a home.
One of his final acts was to read to local schoolchildren last month, joining long snapper Christian Kuntz in the process. Pittsburgh Arlington principle Colleen Smith praised Haskins’ efforts with the children in Pryor’s article.
“After reading a story to our students called ‘Ruby Has a Worry,’ Dwayne shared some of the worries he has faced throughout his life and how he dealt with them”, she quotes the principle as saying. “Dwayne complimented and encouraged every student that came up on stage to ask him a question”.
The recollections of those who knew him best, and most recently, paint the portrait of a man who contained a great generosity of spirit, even while continuing the process of looking to better himself, not just in his profession, but in life. He was taking important steps on both paths during the past year in Pittsburgh.
This serves as a reminder that you never fully know somebody, whether it’s a public figure or otherwise, and just who they are inside, unless you are truly in their circle and find out who they are behind closed doors. Even many members of the local media have acknowledged that they didn’t get a great chance to get to know Haskins over this past year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
We are all learning more about him in the worst way possible—in memoriam. Even though the football player was the only Haskins that most of us ever knew, it was really a small part of what made him up as a human being.