At only 24 years of age, Pettis enters his third season in the NFL. Pettis began to emerge as a receiving threat in 2012 — catching four touchdown passes over the course of the season, as well as two over the last two games.
However, it has been a long road for Pettis to get to this point, and he has not forgotten about those who helped him out to get here.
After finishing his career at Boise State as their all-time leader in receptions (229) and touchdown catches (39), Pettis was drafted 78 overall by the Rams.
Almost as soon as he received his pay as an NFL receiver, he began work on the Austin Pettis Foundation.
In a recent exclusive interview on Pro Football Central, Pettis was asked about his decision to start the foundation.
We started this when I first came in (to the NFL). When I was younger, I had a lot of people who helped me out. Sometimes money was a factor playing in different leagues and being about to afford it. So being a sports fan as much as I was, for the people that would help me and my family out, I wanted to try to give back as much as I could as well.
It is not often that an NFL player at this age is willing to give so much time and effort to give back to the community that gave so much to him. Pettis explained that his mom is a driving factor to his success as well as his charity work.
Charity work is something she’s been wanting to do with me for a while. I grew up with my mom and my sister. We’ve lived with her down in California my whole life. She’s a big sports fan as well — we have sports fans of both sides of the family — she did what ever was possible so I could be able to play sports — it was real nice. She understands that a lot of people helped her when I was younger and she enjoys giving back to other people. She likes to be in this position.
The position that Pettis is currently in revolves around his charity’s basketball camp that was held this past Saturday in his hometown. He has 15 NFL players as well as college athletes and basketball players attending the event. Pettis is excited because his sponsorship has grown and he is able to make it bigger and better for the kids attending.
Speaking of kids attending, Pettis said that he is mainly focused on them during the course of his event.
Kids 10 and under get in for free. That’s the main focus — to get the kids involved. We want to get them out of the stands and let them take some shots. That’s the best part because you can tell that they really enjoy that and it will make a big impact on them.
Asked why he is focused on the kids, he made a comment that was closely related to his situation growing up.
I wanted to make sure that money isn’t an issue for these kids anymore so I started the foundation and began to raise money…we want to eventually make everything free for [the kids].
It is truly great what Pettis is doing in his spare time and should be recognized by NFL players, fans and media. Guys with this type of morals do not come around every day.
Aside from his charity works, Pettis had a good amount to say about football and the Rams this coming season. He was first asked about the loss of Danny Amendola to the New England Patriots and how that has affected him.
Danny is a tremendous football player and meant a lot to the Rams, and I’m sure he will to the Patriots as well. But, now that he’s not with the Rams anymore, I’ve kind of been given the role of coming out of the slot a little bit more and being moved around to different positions. I think I’m really starting to find my comfort and play at the level that I think I should.
The wide receivers that remain on the Rams roster seem to be jelling nicely according to Pettis.
[The wide receivers] stayed with me down in southern California to work out…There have been a lot of guys making plays out there during OTAs and we just want to take that into camp…We just want to do really well out there and help the team win.
It’s not a vicious competition either. The players are pushing themselves to get better as a unit, which is important to grow in the league.
In the locker room there’s a really good sense about this team and we’re really excited of things to come this year.
We have two really tough opponents to get ready for this year, and I think we will be.
If Pettis’ teammates work as hard as he does on — as well as off — the field, he is probably right.