Food, family, fireworks, and in this case, U.S. women’s soccer.
These four things were heavy on our minds during Independence Day weekend, but for one former Alabama player, something of greater proportion was added to the list.
According to Mark Inabinett of al.com, New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower was honored in his hometown of Lewisburg, Tenn., this weekend. The former Crimson Tide standout was involved in a ceremony, in which a section of 1st Avenue North was renamed Dont’a Hightower Parkway. Hightower gave back to the community, by providing the Lewisburg Pee Wee Football Program with shoulder pads and other equipment.
The Kraft family and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation both pitched in to help Hightower with his donation. He even took time to re-establish the community’s Fourth of July fireworks, after it had been discontinued because of financial issues.
Hightower, 25, is coming off a huge season in 2014.
He accounted for 89 combined tackles, six sacks and a forced fumble. New England finished the 2014 regular season at 12-4, capturing an AFC Conference title. Hightower suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder against the Green Bay Packers, however, he made the biggest play of the season for New England in Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle.
He met Seahawks’ running back Marshawn Lynch at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, and brought him down short of the end zone. Hightower’s efforts set up Malcolm Butler’s game-clinching interception for the Patriots. New England secured its fourth Super Bowl title and first since the 2004 season, in defeating Seattle 28-24.
Hightower is recovering from shoulder surgery, a process in which could take six to seven months. New England hopes to have him back Sept. 10, 2015 to start the season.
Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.