Carolina Panther Thomas Davis Connects Family and Community

A dedicated dad of four, Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis is as active off the field as he is on.

Mattison Davis gets a lift off the field from her father Thomas Davis

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Carolina Panthers linebacker and 2014 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Thomas Davis is as active off the field as he is on. The 10-year Carolina Panther is a dedicated dad to four children — Skyy, 13; Denim, 11; Thomas Jr., 7; and Mattison, 5 — and a believer in giving back to the community, especially creating opportunities that promote positive outcomes for children in the community.

His Defending Dreams Foundation sponsors many programs, including the Thomas Davis Youth Leadership Academy, free football camps and toy drive to support youth in Charlotte. Its mission: Educate. Empower. Defend. In September, he partnered with Classroom Central and Carolina Panthers Charities to distribute more than $15,750 work of backpacks filled with much-needed school supplies to more than 500 students at Lingerfeldt Elementary.

Each November, Thomas invites women and families from the Salvation Army for Thanksgiving lunch at Lola’s restaurant, which he plans to do again this year.

We caught up with Davis and asked him to share more about how his family spends time together and their motivation to give back.

MH: With a season of practices and a schedule that takes you out of town, how do you stay connected as a family?

TD: For me, work is work so once I am off for the day, it's then time to focus on my kids, their homework, activities, whatever they need. It is important for me to have the divide so that my family stays as normal as possible. We make sure to eat dinner together a few times a week. We also have family game nights and we support each other's extracurricular activities. 

MH: When you are all home together, what are some of your favorite family activities?

TD: We love playing basketball outside, watching movies together and playing card games. It gets pretty competitive in our Uno battles.

MH: Do you and the family play football together at home?

TD: We do throw the ball around and do tons of football drills as workouts. Our favorite sport to play as a family is basketball. The kids are into pretty much all sports.

MH: You both are involved in giving back to the community, especially to kids and families through the Defending Dreams Foundation and other charitable actions. Tell me about that.

TD: With our foundation, we want to touch as many lives as possible. Our programs are able to reach over 2,100 families each year. We do a lot in Charlotte to help youth be better citizens as a whole, but our favorite program is the Thomas Davis Youth Leadership Academy that we offer.


MH: On Thanksgiving Day, you host women and families from the Salvation Army for lunch at Lola’s. What motivates you to do this?

TD: That event is my personal favorite. To enjoy dinner with the families puts me in a great mood. The excitement they have to be with us is a special feeling. We send a limo bus for each of the women and children to enjoy a sit down dinner with my organization and a few teammates. It’s a time where they don’t have to think about their circumstances, they can just relax and enjoy dinner.

Thomas Davis talks to a group of kids at at his annual youth football camp, which is free to boys and girls.

Andreas Seibold / Goodstuff Creative

MH: How do you instill an attitude of giving back in your children? Do you do anything special to give back at the holidays?

TD: Our kids learned at a young age that you are supposed to help others as much as possible. From small drives at their schools, to helping with the foundation events, our kids are very hands-on and they enjoy it. We like to let them help with our Christmas toy giveaway and our free youth football camp. They really enjoy seeing all of the kids they are helping to smile.

MH: What do you do at the holidays as a family that is special?

TD: We always have a ton of family and friends in town, and the kids think it's a party every day. Skyy loves cooking with her mom at the holidays.

MH: What do you think are the three most important things parents can do to build the bond as a family?

TD: As a family, the top three things we can do to build a bond are: listen to each other, support each other's endeavors and ideas and most importantly, spend genuine quality time together. It means so much to put the phones away and turn off the televisions, and just hang out with each other.

SEE ALSO: Kelly Davis, Davis' wife and a family relationship expert, on making the most of family time at the holidays