Davante Adams remembers where he came from.
Adams, now a superstar NFL receiver with the Green Bay Packers, grew up in East Palo Alto and starred at Palo Alto High School.
On Tuesday he was on hand at the Lewis and Joan Platt East Palo Alto YMCA for a community fitness event in collaboration with the sports nutrition company Optimum Nutrition, as part of the company's Building Better Lives program to raise awareness of disparities in access to fitness, and to establish a permanent public fitness resource for his home community.
"It's why I'm here today, a big part of what I am today was from growing up in this community," Adams said. "I want to give back and it's a no-brainer for me to try to help the youth all I can. Now that I have a platform it provides an opportunity to give back to the underserved community where I grew up."
Stressing fitness is a project Adams takes to heart.
"I still remember as a 10-year-old kid, even younger than that, there weren't many resources but I still found a way," he said. "This will benefit kids down the road. Now they have better resources than I did, they do better in school than I did. We had to do it the old-school way, working out at Jack Farrell Park, which wasn't always the friendliest place."
Adams is coming off his best season as an NFL receiver, catching 115 passes for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns in 14 games. He totaled an incredible 233 receptions in his two years of college at Fresno State. He began his string of prolific receiving years as a senior at Paly in 2010, when he caught 64 passes for 1,094 yards and 12 touchdowns and helped the Vikings win a state championship.
Now he's away in Wisconsin for half the year, even though he said he leaves to come back home about two days after the season's over.
"I can follow my old high school and when one of my cousins, (Eric Washington), was coaching at M-A," Adams said. "He's really the one who got me playing football again. He told me to try out and see if playing receiver was fun. I caught a few balls over some guys heads and thought, 'hey, this feels pretty natural.' I played quarterback in Pop Warner before that for a couple of years before I broke my arm and thought, 'I never got hurt like that playing basketball.'"
Adams was also a bit of a legend for his basketball talent at Paly. Former football coach Earl Hansen recalled how Adams could dunk a basketball from a stand still.
"I could do that for quite some time, ever since I hit my growth spurt in eighth grade, it was easy for me," Adams said. "The first time I did it I was in seventh grade when I was 5-8.
"My dad had pretty good legs, he could jump out of the gym."
Adams also stopped by his old school recently to donate shoes for the Palo Alto High football team.
"It was awesome," Palo Alto coach Nelson Gifford said. "He met with the team and signed autographs. It was supposed to be a secret but the kids found out somehow and showed up with Packers jerseys for him to sign."
Adams is proud of hailing from East Palo Alto, a city of just under 30,000 in population with an incredible per capita rate of producing college football players.
On Monday, the day before Adams appeared at the program at the YMCA, M-A defensive back Skyler Thomas became the latest player from the community to accept a Division I offer when he committed to Oregon State. He's joining a program where two other defensive backs from East Palo Alto, Rejzohn Wright and Alton Julian, are already on the roster and a third East Palo Alto native, Nahshon Wright, was taken in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
"I saw that on my cousin's Instagram," Adams said. "Taking over up there. Hopefully they'll be in the league when I'm older and not playing anymore and they can do what I'm doing now, passing it along, the East Palo Alto way."