So many of us idolize athletes. Scoring the game winning goal, making that one handed touchdown catch- that’s what makes athletes great, right? Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses explode with excitement on game day, buzzing about that game winning home run. These are the things we are seeing players being glorified for all over every asset of the media. For example, how many times did ESPN show the game winning touchdown run by Auburn’s Chris Davis to beat Alabama? More times than I can count. Of course I enjoy watching amazing plays such as these, however the stories shared in the media this year that have left the strongest lasting impression on me are the ones that take place off of the field.

ESPN has shared several of these inspirational stories over the past year that allow you to see athletes in a different light. One in particular that recently has social networks buzzing is the touching story of a special bond between one of college football’s greats and a young man with Ceberal Palsy. The story of the two AJ’s will leave you reaching for the box of tissues.

Everyone knows that AJ McCarron is an outstanding quarterback that will forever be remembered in Alabama football history. But what’s more impressive than his stats, is his character. ESPN recently shared the story of the beautiful friendship that has developed between AJ McCarron and AJ Starr, a student at the University of Alabama that has Ceberal Palsy. Starr found it hard to make friends once enrolling in the university and would spend his spare time watching the football team practice through a gap in the fence. One day at a campus bus stop, McCarron saw two buses pull away and leave Starr without a ride. McCarron then offered Starr a ride home. Being a die-hard Alabama football fan, Starr asked if he could be apart of the team in any way. McCarron spoke with the head of operations and landed Starr an unpaid job in the equipment room. Starr says, “He saved me. I mean I thought about just giving up because I couldn’t make friends here.” McCarron could have easily been satisfied with his performance on the field, but he realized that there’s much more to it than that. He made it his mission to make AJ Starr feel like he belonged at Alabama and in turn has created a sense of family for him. The AJ and AJ story gives us sports fans even more of a reason to look up to Alabama great, AJ McCarron.

Below is the heart warming video documentary that ESPN shared on the story.

McCarron tweeted a picture of the two sharing a heartfelt hug after Alabama’s recent loss in the Sugar Bowl.

It’s stories like these that should be in the forefront of the media. The media in this generation has been flooded with negative stories such as athlete’s steriod use or accused criminal offenses. Let’s change that. Think beyond yourself such as AJ McCarron has thought beyond the gridiron, realizing that he can use his football prowess for much for than winning football games.

–Rachel M.