Former pro-football player created mentoring program 30 years ago, helped hundreds go to college

Visiting youth in a West Tampa neighborhood park changed Tyrone Keys' life forever. 

"This is where it all happened for me man," Keys shared. "Right here, coming out to these parks…They didn't know who I was. They thought I was an undercover cop. But, you know it was just me coming over and hanging out." 

The visits led Keys to start ‘All-Sports Community Service’, a grass-root youth scholarship mentoring program in 1991. 

"I knew I wanted to do something to help young people just like other people had helped me," Keys explained. 

His help came from his Jackson, Mississippi high school football coach Odell Jenkins. 

"I never forget as a 10th grader watching the seniors load up into his Grand Prix and visit Alcon, and Jackson State, Mississippi Valley and those colleges in those areas and I said man, one day I have to get into that car," he recalled. 

Keys has followed suit helping hundreds of students get into college. 

He said, "That seed was planted when I saw a mentor going that extra mile to help young people to help them, fulfill their dreams." 

Keys played on the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl-winning team and for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He knows the importance of teamwork and paying it forward. 

"To me, that is what has to take place," Keys stated. "Each one bears the responsibility to pass it on to the next." 

Keys has had many of the kids that he mentored, come back and help children in the community. 

"It just brings great joy to me to be able to see them come back and do the same thing for the next generation," he explained. 

A joy that he hopes to continue for years to come.

MORE GOOD NEWS: Download the free FOX 13 News app for more #WeLiveHere stories like this