Philadelphia, PA (WLTX) - Former Gamecock All-American and new Philadelphia Eagle wide receiver Alshon Jeffery joined others in honoring USC Women's Basketball head coach Dawn Staley on Thursday at the high school where she graduated in Philadelphia.
We spoke with Jeffery Thursday afternoon to learn more about his role in the event and his relationship with Coach Staley.
When Jeffery heard Coach Staley was scheduled to be honored Thursday in North Philly, he knew he had to be there. He wanted to join everyone in honoring the coach he respects beyond measure in his new hometown. And, he wanted to deliver on a special promise.
Jeffery made his way back to Columbia to cheer on the women's basketball team as they defeated Arizona State 71-68 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16. In the locker room after the game, Jeffery was caught on video promising Staley a custom Eagles jersey. When he asked her what number she wanted, she first said five, and then she changed her mind, saying, "Actually, I want your number!"
Fast forward to this week. Fresh off the Gamecocks' National Championship win, Gamecock Nation is jubilant. And Dawn Staley? She hadn't forgotten her roots.
And her roots hadn't forgotten her. Staley was in Philadelphia Thursday to be honored at her high school alma mater, Dobbins Murrell CTE High School in North Philly. And, as hoped, Jeffery was there, too. With him, TWO jerseys - Staley's number 5 and his number 17.
Blessed to be in the city to honor a true legend and my dear friend the GOAT 👉🏽Coach Dawn Staley. Congrats and thanks for all you do! Love 💯 pic.twitter.com/vikauiImuW— Alshon Jeffery (@TheWorldof_AJ) April 6, 2017
Staley was in Columbia throughout Jeffery’s time with the Gamecocks, and they knew each other then. Thursday, Jeffery told WLTX that he always felt a connection with her. And now, Jeffery says, "I have nothing but respect for her."
"Coach Staley has brought SC the notoriety it deserves. She has put USC and that program on the map," Jeffery said. "I think she is the best coach in America," Jeffery said.
Jeffery went on to say that USC should do whatever it takes to hold on to her because, "What she is doing with those young ladies is really something special."
As we ended our conversation, Jeffery added, "I want to say one more thing. Go Gamecocks! And fly eagles, FLY!"