- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
- L.A. sheriff admits to testing flyover spy program without notifying residents
Spirit of season lives in Virginia’s Oday Aboushi
Lineman aids those hurt by Sandy
NEW YORK — Miles from home, Oday Aboushi watched news reports and felt helpless as Superstorm Sandy tore through the neighborhoods in which he grew up.
The offensive lineman from the University of Virginia, a potential first-round pick in the NFL draft, knew what was happening: homes of friends destroyed, parts of Staten Island where he once hung out, under water.
And Aboushi, all 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds of him, couldn't do a thing about it.
"Yeah, it was a little tough hearing about all the damage being done and having your family on the island, as well, close to the water," he said Saturday. "We were blessed to have nothing happen to us, my family. But just to hear about what was happening and seeing pictures of what was going on here was so nervewracking."
Done with his studies — officially a UVa. graduate as of this week — and looking toward an NFL career, Aboushi needed to take care of things back home.
He trained for a week at Athletes Performance, a predraft camp, in Pensacola, Fla. Aboushi then returned to Staten Island and the Midland Beach neighborhood, one of the harder-hit areas along the east coast of the New York borough, to lend a hand to nearly 1,000 residents in need of food, clothing and supplies.
"On the way here, I drove past New Dorp Lane and Midland Beach and to see how the houses look now, which I know wouldn't even compare to how they looked the day after the storm, it's definitely an eye-opener," he said. "It makes you feel blessed and privileged to be in a position where you can actually give back and help people."
Aboushi was joined by his family in giving out donated items at the Olympia Activity Center, a modest building usually used for parties, banquets, meetings and sports events. On Saturday, it was a makeshift safe haven for families still without heat, homes or food. Across the street, the ruined innards of some homes sat in large metal dumpsters. Other houses still had their windows ominously taped — just as they were before the storm hit Oct. 29.
Hundreds of people lined up outside the center, which had a banner draped across the entrance: "Occupy Sandy Relief." Inside was a room filled with canned goods, dry food and mounds of warm clothes, including 100 Reebok winter coats donated by Jets linebacker David Harris. Mark Rosen of Sabrett Hot Dogs had nearly a half-dozen vending carts set up outside to cook thousands of free frankfurters for anyone who came by.
Aboushi, wearing an orange Virginia Cavaliers hoodie, also spent time signing autographs for fans proud of the local kid who came back to help.
"It brings you back to earth where you think to yourself, `I could be that person or that could be my family,"' Aboushi said. "So I know if I was in that position, I know people would be trying to help me, too."
Aboushi grew up in Tottenville at the southern tip of Staten Island and went to Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, right over the Verrazano Bridge. In the days following the storm, Aboushi read on Facebook and Twitter about how some former high school classmates had been hit hard, guys with whom he spent time in class and on the football field.
"I knew there was something I needed to do about it to try to help," he said. "People are cleaning up and getting better every day, so I didn't want to wait until it was too late to help. And I wanted to do it before I even got to the NFL."
That time is coming soon. Aboushi is expected to be picked in the first round or early in the second, at left or right tackle. He is athletic and agile. He was a first-team all-ACC selection this season and was an early roster selection to the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Kansas will nullify local regulation of guns
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Washington Redskins' 2014 schedule opens with Texans
- Opposition rising to Colorado gun control laws
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Georgia governor signs bill expanding gun rights
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014