When Ferguson, Missouri, erupted into violence in November, one of the best commentaries came from NFL tight end Benjamin Watson. His Facebook post, which articulated his anger, sympathy, hope and confusion, went viral.

In response to the riots in Baltimore, Watson has again crafted an insightful essay that is gaining steam online.

Here's the embedded Facebook post, which is followed by a transcript for easier reading:


We have major problems as a nation. Yesterday Ferguson burned. Tonight #Baltimore burns. Tomorrow it will be another...

Posted by Benjamin Watson on Monday, April 27, 2015

We have major problems as a nation. Yesterday Ferguson burned. Tonight ‪#‎Baltimore‬ burns. Tomorrow it will be another city in our homeland. Watching the coverage I'm hearing yet another version of a nauseatingly familiar narrative. Violence by police reciprocated by violence by the community, reciprocated by violence by police reciprocated by.... It seems fruitless to continue to analyze, condemn, and respond to these dreadful episodes.

"Frustration, anger, tension boiling over, upset and unfortunate" are words we hear from Baltimore residents. When it comes to law enforcement, race, poverty, education, immigration we always talk about fixing "broken" systems. We resolve to legislate for education, job creation, and systemic overhaul. These are helpful and definitely needed BUT we have done all of these things ad nauseum and look at us!! Without a change of heart these attempts fail us. So what can we say? What can we do? Systems are broken because people are broken and if systems are fixed without hearts being changed the result will be a legalistic attempt that will lack long term results. Our problems are wholistic and common to the human heart. Hatred, prejudice, exploitation, pride, self righteousness, secrecy, and rebellion, manifest itself in the explosions we've seen over the last year, the last century, and the last millennia.

Tonight I see so much entrenched pain without remedy. Most are handling it without violence while a few are committing the unacceptable.

Tonight I see young children, asking like my daughter did earlier, "What's happening daddy", in desperate need of parents to walk them through these disturbing scenes.

Tonight I see "smoke," but we must address the fire. The response that we are watching is just "smoke" from years of hopelessness. After each situation the more I am convinced that the love of God for our fellow brothers and sisters who were created in His image, is our only hope for reconciliation. But the only way we can even see him that way is if God illuminates our view and changes our thought process. I'm not talking about holding hands and singing. Love is an action that compels one to treat another with dignity and respect even if they don't deserve it. It pushes for education and opportunities for those in poverty. It gives identity and self worth. It administers justice without abuse. It honors authority and promotes peace. It is not weak, but strong for what is right!

Tonight I see a brokenness that only Christ can give us the wisdom and power to mend.

We pray for every disaster that happens to us. Bombings, natural disasters, cancer and outbreaks. What we've seen in our country lately deserves that same attention. Our attempts to fix this have fallen short.

We, and most importantly, the body of Christ, must stand for justice in all areas, for all people. We must set the standard for the correct way to treat people.

Tonight I pray for the pastors, leaders, police and community of Baltimore.

Tonight I ‪#‎PrayForAmerica‬.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has had a high-profile offseason with two appearances at White House functions, one with his grandma and one with Ciara. But even away from the media spotlight, Wilson manages to generate some news, and it's of the heartwarming variety.

According to a sequence of tweets Wednesday night, Wilson upgraded a U.S. Army soldier to first class for a flight to Seattle on Alaska Airlines:




This kind of cool move shows why Wilson has a such a strong reputation as being one of the good guys in sports. It also underscores why companies like Alaska Airlines are interested in having him represent their brand. The airlines designated him as its Chief Football Officer, and the solider's upgrade only enhances its brand.

As riots and protests continue to threaten Baltimore, some of its more prominent residents and natives are stepping up to try and enter the conversation. Ray Lewis has already said he will forego the NFL Draft to stay in Baltimore and be present in this time of conflict and crisis.

Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton, meanwhile, is taking a grassroots approach to mending tense relations between Baltimore's communities. Tuesday afternoon, he hosted a get-together at Baltimore's Cloverdale Park, enticing people with free food and hoping to lay the foundation for a conversation.


Barton is a Baltimore native, having starred for the state title-winning Lake Clifton High School back in 2009. The crisis in the city pushed him to take a more active role in trying to protect the community he loves.

Barton said the food for the get-together was provided by McDonald's, and he only needed to pull together some utensils and paper plates -- and, of course, some people to join the party.

Based on this picture, it looks like Barton's get-together was a success, drawing a large crowd of people:


As some people wonder whether Baltimore is too dangerous, Barton seems determined to stay put and help be part of the solution:



So far, Barton seems to be having success both on the ground and on social media, serving as a rallying point and a leader for his community. It's a good example of a professional athlete using his reputation to effect positive change.

MacKenzie Moretter has always had a birthday party with her family. But for her 10th birthday, she wanted one that included friends. The only problem: MacKenzie has always struggled with making friends.

MacKenzie has a rare genetic condition called Sotos Syndrome, which causes gigantism and has made MacKenzie much taller than her peers, her dad told KARE in Minnesota. Although kids are nice to her, they don't play with her or build friendships.

When MacKenzie's mom sent invitations to 10 students, none accepted. Days before the party, MacKenzie didn't have any guests to expect. Her mother, desperate, put out a plea through Facebook asking for sympathetic parents to come to the park for a celebration, even if just for a short time, just to help her daughter avoid the heartache of being stood up.

MacKenzie got much more than she bargained for. Around 200 people ended up coming to the park for a birthday, including two NFL players: Minnesota Vikings receiver Charles Johnson and Buffalo Bills tight end MarQueis Gray.


Johnson brought his own family, including his wife and daughters, and spent some time with MacKenzie.

"[Johnson] showed up early and stayed with his family for a couple of hours," said Mackenzie's dad, according to Bleacher Report. "He played, danced, played with bubbles -- like everyone else there.

"He brought her a present, toys, a pink Charles Johnson jersey with his name and number on the back, and pink shoes that matched. She wore it to school Monday."


Gray, meanwhile, shared some video from the party, which features all sort of fun: Hula hoops, balloons and tons of kids running around playing.


Odds are you've never had a birthday party that good. Good on Johnson and Gray for taking time to make MacKenzie's birthday special.

Jack Carder had a monumental experience Tuesday night. First, he took the pitching mound before a Columbus Clippers minor-league baseball game in Ohio. On the mound, volunteers presented Carder with a 3D-printed prosthetic hand fashioned after Iron Man.

Once the 5-year-old slipped it on to his right hand hand, he raised it triumphantly in the air. Then he threw the game's opening pitch with his left.

Carder, who was born with only a thumb on his right hand, received the hand from a non-profit group called e-NABLE-Siena College, which features student engineers working to provide solutions such as Carder's hand.

The new prosthetic functions in concert with Carder's thumb, giving him five-finger functionality and the ability to perform everyday tasks with his hand.

Apparently, his hand also have a super-cool feature: A glow-in-the-dark laser that emits from his hand.


And the transition was a success! MEET OUR IRON MAN JACK

A photo posted by e-NABLE Siena (@enablesiena) on

Carder had tried on his hand earlier for the e-NABLE group so they could make sure it was properly fitted to his hand. But as of Tuesday night, it's all his.

Props to this incredible group of students and its positive impact.


Hugs all around #ENABLESiena

A photo posted by e-NABLE Siena (@enablesiena) on

Brian Peterson was raised in Massachusetts, but he and his wife settled and raised a family in Nebraska. Ten years ago, his wife died after a battle with cancer, leaving Peterson alone to raise three girls.

Those girls are grown up now, and they understand what a gift their father gave them just by sticking with them and helping them recover from their devastating loss. On Monday, those girls repaid their father by taking him to Boston for a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.

In a segment filmed for The Today Show, Peterson explains that one of the last trips he ever made with his wife was to Boston for a Red Sox game.

The trip to Fenway was an incredible experience for Peterson and his daughters: They enjoyed seats behind the team dugout and got to meet Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli.

Peterson's oldest girl was 14 when his wife died, but his daughters speak highly of how he rallied them together in the wake of their loss.

Said one daughter: "[He] definitely taught us how to get through it and how to never leave someone's side. He showed us the true value of love."

Betty Johnson was a Kansas City Chiefs superfan. She attended every game, and received a regular pre-game kiss from wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who was just released from the team this season.

On Thursday, Johnson's health declined, and her family came to realize they might not have much more time with her. They contacted the Chiefs with one final request: She wanted to see the Chiefs one last time.

The franchise helped her out, arranging for a visit to her from Nick Lowery, a former Chiefs kicker now in the franchise's Hall of Fame.

According to Johnson's granddaughter, the scene was emotional, and almost poetic.

"We sang a prayer, and he was going to leave, and we noticed that she was no longer breathing," Johnson's granddaughter told KSHB. "We believe that she was just waiting to say goodbye to her Chiefs."

Props to the Chiefs for arranging for Johnson's last wish to be granted.

As British cyclist David Sims sees it, lots of people before him have raised money riding an adult bike. Not quite as common? Raising money for charity by riding a famous children's bike.

So Sims is doing just that. And now, this isn't your casual loop around the block: Sims is riding the Tour de France.

This summer, just before the real cycling race takes place, Sims will embark on his own tour of the French countryside, biking for the Help for Heroes charity, which provides support to soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

Like professional cyclists on big-boy bikes, Sims will have a team helping him along the way. A friend will trail him in an RV to offer assistance throughout any obstacles he might face.

To withstand the ride, which will cover more than 2000 miles, Sims has had to make surprisingly few adjustments to his Raleigh Chopper. The bike will even feature the original, 1970s-era tires.

"The main I've changed is the seat post and the pedal arms as it was originally designed for kids," Sim tells the New York Post'. "And the wheels -- on the first part of the race through Northern France, there are a lot of sections of really terrible cobbles, so a guy made me some really strong wheels as I kept breaking spokes. I've also had to put slightly better brakes on as well."

Sim's bike is best-known in popular culture for its role on the family sitcom The Wonder Years, in which the protagonist Kevin Arnold uses his Chopper to impress his childhood crush, Winnie Cooper.

Sim believes he'll be able to climb even the steepest segments of the race on the children's bike, and may even go farther than the actual pro riders will in this year's Tour de France -- riding on a kid's bike, he said there will be times where he opts for less-trafficked roads.

Pete Frates, a former college baseball player at Boston College who was later diagnosed with ALS and is credited with inventing the Ice Bucket Challenge, has been awarded an honorary contract by the Boston Red Sox.

Frates has collaborated with the Red Sox on fundraising and awareness efforts in the past, and the club has enjoyed its relationship with the activist. During Spring Training, the Red Sox played an exhibition game with Boston College, and each team wore Frates' name across the backs of their jerseys, along with No. 3 -- his college playing number.

Now, he's an official member of the Red Sox organization.

"Everything that Pete has gone through, there's been a pretty strong connection made here with the Red Sox,” manager John Farrell said at the ceremony. "We weren't aware that there was going to be the honorary contract signed. I thought it was a great gesture on the part of [general manager Ben Cherington] and the organization.

"It's just great to see the attention that he's bringing to his own challenge and what it's meant, really, worldwide."

Frates' new teammates were eager to give him a warm reception.


Five years ago a tall, quiet teenager walked into a gas station in Detroit with a grim look on his face.

He had run out of gas on the John C. Lodge Freeway and he was looking for some help. Mohamed Gabasha, who was working at the BP gas station that night, gave the young man a container of gas and a ride to his car.

This week that man repaid Gabasha for his good deed, and he added interest.

Will Gholston, now a 23-year-old defensive end on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was then a high school senior heading to Michigan State. Now that he's entering his third year in the NFL he's got some funds with which to repay Gabasha.

During a recent trip back to Detroit, where he grew up, Gholston surprised Gabasha by dropping in and paying him back for gas he donated.

Here's the video Gabasha's cousin uploaded to YouTube. As a warning, the clip contains some explicit language:

Gabasha told the Tampa Bay Times that he has helped other customers before but none had ever come back to thank him.

"It was amazing, how he actually came back," Gabasha said. "He just said 'Thank you for that day.' It was really, really nice."

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