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SATURDAY, MAY 12, 2007
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Former Tide star Samuels gives away homes

By John Zenor
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Like a lot of pro athletes, Chris Samuels talks about giving back to the community.

But instead of a few dollars or a few hours, the Washington Redskins’ Pro Bowl left tackle has a more tangible gift in mind — one with walls and a roof.

Samuels, a former Alabama All-American, is giving away a free house to a low-income family in Selma on Saturday through the Chris Samuels Foundation in a mixture of business and charity. His interest in both comes out when he talks about his weekend giveaway.

“I understand the market in Selma and how much money people make down there,” Samuels said in a phone interview from Washington. “It’s a big renter’s market down there, and I’m preaching home ownership. It’s one house down there, but it would be a start.”

It’s a start for Samuels’ post-NFL future, too.

Those entered in the drawing for the house giveaway will first listen to Samuels and others speak on the virtues of home ownership at Wallace Community College in Selma.

CRS Development, the company Samuels runs with girlfriend Monique Cox, is building a subdivision in 21 acres in Selma, a city in Alabama’s impoverished Black Belt that was the site of the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march March 7, 1965.

In fact, Samuels spoke briefly with Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at the recent gathering for the 42nd anniversary.

“They heard about what we’re doing and told me congratulations and they were supporting me,” said Samuels. “They were excited to see an athlete giving back to their community.”

He’s a native of Mobile, about 190 miles southwest of Selma, and said he intends to keep giving back to his home state.

“The good Lord’s blessed me to make a lot money playing in the NFL,” the four-time Pro Bowler said.

“I’ve got a little bit of fame behind my name. It’d be a shame if I didn’t give back and try to help out my community.”

Selma Mayor James Perkins said Samuels has encountered challenges including a fluctuating housing market and rising materials costs but remains fully committed to finishing the project.

“First off, he was willing to do something truly innovative. Secondly, he was willing to take an underdeveloped area and invest in it. And thirdly, now he’s willing to actually raffle off one of the homes and give it to a citizen of Selma,” Perkins said.

“He didn’t have to do any of that but he chose to do all of that. He’s very high on my list.”

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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