PASADENA - This afternoon a room full of middle and high school-aged kids got a very pleasant surprise when UCLA football standout Elijah Gates paid them a visit to pass out backpacks full of school supplies and he and talked to them for a while.
Elijah, an alum of the McKenzie-Scott Boys & Girls Club spoke to the very engaged teens and pre-teens and let them know that he was once them. From the outset, he had them interested in what he had to say and all he did was give them good advice about life and school.
Also Pasadena Panther alum as well, Elijah let the kids know that some of the friendships they are building now will last a lifetime and even though there's a time to have fun, there are also times to be serious and it's never too early to start preparing for the future.
After the redshirt sophomore cornerback introduced himself and talked about his journey from a kid at the Boys & Girls Club to an outstanding athlete, to an excellent student, he let the kids ask him questions. The kids weren't shy and asked him everything from how he felt when he was accepted into college to if he ever skipped a class. Elijah was very honest with the kids and it was evident that the kids appreciated his honesty. He also let them know that he got a lot of his competitive nature from being involved at the Boys & Girls Club.
His parents, Gregory and Christy Gates were there to support their son, just as they have been his entire life. His grandmother and siblings were as well, and It was refreshing to see such a strong and close family. there is no doubt Elijah is headed for success and he will always give back.
Christy told us that Elijah did this all on his own. It was his idea to give out the school supplies and he went out and got everything done.
The highlight of the day was when a kid started talking about his brother Darius and he told Elijah that his brother was just like him. The boy's 15-year-old brother, Darius Smith was killed in Arcadia in 2017. Elijah told the boy that he knew his brother and that he was a great athlete. After the giveaway, Elijah and the kid talked for a few minutes as Elijah encouraged him to strive to be more than anyone expected him to be.
Whether you like UCLA football or not, follow Elijah on Instagram @E.Gatess and make sure you keep your eye on #12 this season.