Le'Veon Bell gave back to his high school last week -- to the tune of a $750,000 donation over 10 years to pay for the installation and maintenance of a state-of-the-art turf field at Cruiser Stadium, where he once played.
Bell, now a star running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, graduated from Groveport Madison High School in 2010 and played college ball at Michigan State University.
The school board met in special session May 24 to accept the donation and to agree to name the football field the Le'Veon Bell Field at Cruiser Stadium.
Although the field will be named after Bell, the board retains the right to sell naming, sponsorship and advertising rights "in and to areas on and in the facility other than the athletic field to any third party."
"This is the most generous gift we have received from alumni in the history of the Groveport Madison school district," Superintendent Bruce Hoover said. "It is a statement and a testament to the power of relationships that teachers and alumni have that make a community strong in taking care of kids."
In a statement read by Cruiser football coach Bryan Schoonover, Bell said he was happy to be able to support the schools and community.
"I would not be here, where I am today, if it wasn't for the teachers, coaches and administrators of Groveport Madison High School," he said in the statement.
His mother, Lisa Bell, who asked her son for the donation, presented the board with a large symbolic check.
"I am happy to say that when my son was blessed, he was able to bless the community," she said.
Schoonover said the donation would "mean the world" to the football team.
"Playing on a field that not just an All-Pro running back, but an alumnus -- somebody that is from the community and somebody that grew up the way many of our kids did -- I think that is an exciting, incredible opportunity for those guys," Schoonover said.
The agreement between the board and Bell provides for the NFL star to present various "after-school Bell's Boys Initiatives" at the high school. The newly created nonprofit organization will work with the district to define the scope of events and activities "designed to foster sportsmanship and leadership development for area youth."
The board also agreed to pay The Motz Group of Cincinnati $725,800 to install the synthetic turf.
Deputy Superintendent John Hurd said the project is expected to start June 9 and be finished around Aug. 8.
The district tentatively has set Aug. 25, the date of the first 2017 home football game, for a dedication event.
Schoonover said he hopes his team understands the importance of the event and what it means to give back to the community.
"It's great to be a great athlete. It's even better to be a great human being," Schoonover said. "This guy really didn't have to, but he's proud of where he came from; this is who he is and this is a place that helped him get where he needed to be and he gave back more than anybody ever has."