KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota will head back to Nashville in a few weeks ahead of his third NFL training camp, but before he turns his focus to football, the 2014 Heisman Trophy winner is focused on giving back here in Hawaii.
Back in 2015 during his rookie season, Mariota started the Motiv8 Foundation to help kids of troubled neighborhoods and backgrounds through educational and athletic programs. This morning that took him to Likelike Elementary where he stood in the school cafeteria in front of 60 kindergarten through fifth graders.
"They knew something was going to happen, they didn't know exactly who was going to come, but when they found out they loved it," said Likelike Elementary president Kelly Bart.
Mariota's message was about dreaming big and following those dreams. He answered every wide-ranging question from the kids, one donning his number eight Titans jersey and another in a University of Oregon cheer uniform.
"That was probably the toughest press conference I've had in a couple years," Mariota joked. "I had questions from what's my favorite pizza, to what I like to do. It was a lot of fun. It's an opportunity to meet the kids and interact."
More than that, Mariota's Motiv8 Foundation along with Island Insurance provided the 60 summer school kids with all of the school supplies they'll need for the upcoming year.
"To be able to put this all together, it's awesome," Mariota said. "That's what Motiv8 wants to be, and as we continue forward, hopefully we can do more of this."
"Having the Motiv8 Foundation and Island Insurance Foundation supporting our families and our students is a big help," Bart said. "We have a high poverty rate, high English language learners, so every donation and every support in the community helps our school and kids."
The platform to make a difference in his home state is something Mariota never could have envisioned back in his childhood from Nuuanu Elementary to Saint Louis School.
"To have an opportunity to do this, it means the world to us as a family," the NFL rising star said. "It's pretty crazy. I would never have thought this was going to be what would come, but I'm very fortunate, very blessed to be a part of it."