Baltimore Ravens’ Jameel McClain’s Path to the NFL Included Help from Salvation Army


As a five-year NFL linebacker, 27-year-old Jameel McClain will take part in his first ever Super Bowl game this Sunday with his team, the Baltimore Ravens. According to a recent article on, McClain’s path to the NFL wasn’t easy.

Growing up in North Philadelphia, McClain and his family experienced periods of homelessness in which he, his mother and three siblings turned to The Salvation Army for food and shelter. At one point, the McClain family lived in a Salvation Army shelter for a year before bouncing around between homes.

“Nobody likes it easy,” McClain said. “But I’ll tell you what, I’ve never had it easy.”

McClain used his experience at The Salvation Army to help build the foundation for his future. He earned a scholarship from Syracuse University to play football and then jumped at the opportunity to show the Ravens that he deserved to be a member of their team by being the only undrafted rookie free agent to make their roster in 2008.

“My life has been one boxing match after another,” McClain says. “No matter what gets thrown at me, I keep fighting.”

On top of his professional achievements, McClain’s personal life involves charitable work with The Salvation Army Baltimore Area Command by kicking off the city’s Red Kettle Campaign and packaging Christmas gifts for distribution along with teammates.

McClain isn’t the only professional athlete with a Salvation Army past. Alfred Morris and Emmitt Smith both got their start playing youth football with Salvation Army teams in Pensacola, FL, while Felix Jones and Robert Meachem played with The Salvation Army North Mabee Boys & Girls Club “Mabee Babies” team in Tulsa, OK.

To learn more about youth programs in your area, visit

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One Comment on “Baltimore Ravens’ Jameel McClain’s Path to the NFL Included Help from Salvation Army

  1. Dear Mr McLain

    Thank you for sharing your story about your journey how pivotal the Salvation Army played along your journey. I love that you give back and that you must of used your growing up and how tough it was focusing on something you loved Football , your determination ,courage, strength, believing is what all of our world should have. I started working with the Syracuse Salvation Army trying to be a giver of hope through bags I put together for homeless teens that. Find themselves at the Booth House. Linda wright, and Greg Meitus are my point of contact. I started in 2010 , the same year I was diagnosed with Chronic meylogeous Leukemia April 2010 . I did the best I could with donations of items from my community and beyond .i have gotten great support from the Salvation Army. My goal is to make this an official Non for profit.That was put on hold because of having to have Stem cell transplant sept 2011 having complication.i know by the grace of God I survived and I want to be able to continue to give hope to these young people . I do not know if you have plans to be in Syracuse, but if so I would love to chat with you. Feel free connect with my Salvation point of contact so you know I am who I say I am. Congratulation on all you have accomplished in life during difficult times leading to the a Superbowl win,

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