Tyrann Mathieu hosting kickball game, football camp to 'bring New Orleans together'

TEMPE, Ariz. -- For the past five years, Tyrann Mathieu watched his former Arizona Cardinals teammates and coach host golf events to raise money for their respective charities.

But Mathieu doesn't golf.

So when Mathieu wanted to hold a fundraiser for his foundation, he wanted to be different. Thus was born the "Tyrann Mathieu and Friends Kickball Classic," which will be held Saturday in New Orleans at Shrine on Airline, the stadium that's home to the New Orleans Baby Cakes, the Miami Marlins' Triple-A affiliate.

"I just wanted to do something different," Mathieu told ESPN. "I haven't really gotten into golf that much yet. A lot of guys put on golf events. A lot of guys put on charity basketball events, but I grew up playing kickball, so I thought it'd be fun to bring that back."

Mathieu, who was cut by the Cardinals on March 14 and signed with the Houston Texans on Friday, played kickball often in school as a kid, either in gym class or during recess -- always at shortstop. He felt it was the ideal event that could bring out celebrities and families at the same time, which he considered a priority.

The game will be divided up into "Team Tigers," consisting of former LSU players, coached by current Tigers coach Ed Orgeron, and "Team Savages," coached by the rapper Birdman and consisting of fellow NFL players and celebrities. Mathieu will play on Team Tigers with the likes of Patrick Peterson, Donte Jackson, Corey Webster, Justin Vincent, Arden Key, Jamal Adams, Brad Wing, Cyril Grayson, Jerald Hawkins, Jarvis Landry, Duke Riley and Jarrius Robertson.

Team Savages will include Ted Ginn Jr., Haason Reddick, Markus Golden, Josh Magee, Harlan Miller, Tony Jefferson, Tarik Cohen, Delvin Breaux, Antoine Bethea, Robert Alford, DJ Afterthought, Hot Boy Turk and Jerraud Powers.

"I think it's good to see people happy," Mathieu said. "I think it's good to see people in positive environments. That's really what I'm trying to do, and hopefully we can do it every year and hopefully people begin to look forward to my weekend."

On Sunday, Mathieu will host his third annual Heart of a Badger Youth Skills Camp at the New Orleans Saints complex. He expects 450 kids from the New Orleans area to attend.

The camp, Mathieu said, has improved every year, and he's looking forward to working with and competing against the kids.

"It was reminiscent of how I was at that age," Mathieu said. "I hope I'm able to continue to come back and continue to light that fire. I know how hard it is to grow up in New Orleans."

Living and playing in Arizona, Mathieu wasn't able to see the impact his camp had on local youth football. But he heard "constant positive feedback" from people in New Orleans.

"That's what those kids need," Mathieu said. "They need positive [people] in front of them. I think there's a lot of misleading things and distractions that can get in their way. I think it's important to come back every year and reignite that fire inside those kids and let them know that they can be successful."

Mathieu's presence in New Orleans has continued to grow during his five years in the NFL. As someone who grew up in New Orleans and learned to play different sports in the city's parks, being able to provide a positive influence to the city’s youth is what he cherishes most. That is all Mathieu is trying to do by hosting the events in his hometown.

Now it's taking up an entire weekend, highlighted by his signature event -- the kickball game.

"I think it's extremely important to have an event like this where you just raise awareness about what you're trying to do through your foundation," Mathieu said. "People begin to become more involved, so hopefully I can continue to put on events like this where I can just try to bring New Orleans together and try to create a positive atmosphere where not only kids can enjoy it but adults as well."