Sunday marked the 108th annual celebration of Mother’s Day in America. But for Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive captain Cameron Heyward, Mother’s Day 2022 held a bit more meaning than previous ones.
Heyward celebrated the mothers in his life by delivering the commencement speech at Carlow University, which is located at the heart of Pittsburgh. Not only did Heyward speak, but he was also awarded with an honorary doctorate from the university in recognition of his philanthropic efforts throughout the Pittsburgh community. With the Steelers using their 6th round selection on Connor Heyward in the 2022 NFL Draft, it is clear family comes first for, not only the Steelers organization, but the Heyward’s as a whole. Therefore, Heyward made it a point to talk about his mission that started at a young age and what it means to him to give back:
“When I got drafted here, I made a pledge to myself that I wasn’t going to just be a part of a team, I was going to be a part of the community,” he said. “I have tried to live that way and with that, I am trying to create a legacy for me and my family.” Heyward went on to explain, “I want my son to understand what it means to be a part of the community, what it means to give back and the blessings we have accumulated over the years so he knows he has a chance to give back, and you can have a long-standing effect on those you come in contact with. Nobody has made it to the top alone. Anybody who tells you that is foolish. I am nowhere near the top, but I have a whole village that has helped me get to this point.”
Heyward’s proclamation, “Nobody has made it to the top alone,” seemed fitting on Sunday afternoon. Not only was Heyward surrounded by the student body, but Heyward’s grandmother, Judith Jordan, accompanied him on stage, along with Heyward’s mother, Charlotte Heyward, who was gleefully watching from the audience. Heyward was blessed to celebrate Mother’s Day with two generations on Sunday. Needless to say, (Charlotte) Heyward was incredibly excited and proud of her eldest son:
“To receive an honorary doctorate from where your grandmother graduated is a blessing,” she said. “You get to bless others with words of encouragement at their commencement, and in turn you get to receive an honorary doctorate at Carlow College. It’s very special.” She went on to explain, “My mom is still involved with Carlow. She loves her college. She said if it wasn’t for Carlow, and getting a full scholarship because of academics, she wouldn’t have been able to do it all. She owes Carlow everything. And this came full circle.”
As an appreciative gesture, the university also honored Jones by presenting her with her original degree and Heyward’s honorary doctorate in a shared frame, side by side.
In his address, Heyward highlighted lessons he’s learned through his life. From working hard at Peachtree Ridge High School to earn a Division I offer from Ohio State University, to becoming the Steelers’ 31st overall selection in 2010, Heyward has shown no one will out-work him at any level. However, Heyward explained this doesn’t just apply to the football field:
“We’re all a work in progress, including myself,” he said. “Learn from every experience. Find mentors and learn from them. Learn from others’ mistakes as well as your own. Make a point of learning something new every single day. Learn more, talk less, keep an open mind.” Heyward included, “Embrace the grind… Don’t expect anyone to give you anything. Expect to work hard for what you want. When you put in the hours and the brainpower and the sweat, you will have a greater appreciation for the work you have achieved. Don’t give up. If a door closes it closes, knock it down, head-first, if necessary, just like my dad did and I do as well.”
Heyward is clearly well-deserving of this prestigious gesture from the university. Since he came to Pittsburgh in 2010, Heyward acted on his charitable mission. After his involvement with a plethora of local efforts, Heyward established his own charitable organization, the Heyward House, in 2015. The Heyward House supports a wide variety of projects within the Pittsburgh community including Cam’s Birthday Bash, The Literacy Project, and Craig’s Closet. Not only has the Pittsburgh community showed appreciation for Heyward’s hard work, but the Steelers have nominated Heyward four times for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Heyward embodies what it means to be a ‘Pittsburgh Steeler,’ and the entire Pittsburgh community is the beneficiary of that.
Looking ahead to Heyward’s summer plans in Pittsburgh, the Heyward House will be helping in putting together the second annual Three Rivers Celebrity Softball Game on Saturday, July 16th. Last year’s event raised over $10,000 for the Heyward House and the sights are set higher for 2022. For more information on tickets and the game, click HERE.
Please join Steeler Nation, myself, and the city of Pittsburgh in a continuous ‘thank you’ for the Heyward family and how much they’ve accomplished for the community.