Former New York Giants and Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Justin Tuck has long been an advocate for childhood literacy. He and his wife, Lauran Tuck, formed the Justin Tuck R.U.S.H For Literacy Foundation in 2008 with the goal of providing books and educational programs for children in low-income areas in New York, New Jersey, the Bay area and Alabama. Monday night, Tuck and his wife hosted a Monday Night Football watch party as part of the Thuzio Executive Club series to benefit the foundation and raise money in the hopes of achieving their next goal: to build a pair of libraries in Alabama.
The event, held at Rock and Reilly’s bar at the New York Renaissance Hotel, featured a live Q&A session between Tuck, his wife, and Thuzio co-founder Tiki Barber, as well as both a live and silent auction. As most NFL fans know, Tuck went to Notre Dame on a football scholarship after growing up in the small town of Kellyton, Alabama. He recognizes the importance of education and that’s a big reason why he and his wife started the foundation back in 2008.
“I just know how important my education has been for me. For a kid coming from a small town with not really many opportunities outside of the fact that God gave me the ability to play football, I know so many kids, friends of mine that grew up in the same situation and didn’t really have an out,” said Tuck. “Education is always the out, it’s the opportunity to do something bigger and better. It’s something that’s going to stick with you for the rest of your lifetime. I’m done playing football, I’m 33 years old. If I hadn’t taken my education seriously, my growth as a person might be over as well. When you have a great education it opens so many doors for you and I’m a living example of that. So, obviously, I want to give that back to today’s youth.”
For Tuck, the foundation’s new project, looking to build two new libraries in Alabama, is especially important to him because as he says, Alabama is always going to be home.
“Kellyton, Alabama is always going to be home. I always wanted to give back to those places that gave so much to me,” said Tuck. “That’s why we do our programs in the Bay area in California, because I spent two years out there. Obviously, the tri-state area, back in Alabama, those places are very key to me. We’re looking to grow it into South Bend, Indiana and that space too. I think for us, it’s important to give back, especially for me, to Kellyton, Alabama and Alabama in general because I wouldn’t be the man that I am today without the relationships I had as a kid.”
Tuck and his wife are continuing to look into different opportunities for the foundation to grow into the future. Eight years in, it has grown from what was at first largely book distribution into now including an essay contest and various educational programs. For more information on how to get involved with the organization, head over to the foundation’s website.