For Joe Haden, it's a personal issue. The Cleveland Browns cornerback grew up with a younger brother who suffers from language and speech difficulties.

As Haden tells ESPN's Steve Wulf, "He's just a really cool kid, a blessing to me and my family. I play for him, and I would do anything for him."

That's why Haden became involved with the Special Olympics as a Global Ambassador, and it's why he's involved with the awareness initiative "Spread The Word To End The Word" -- a campaign to end use of the "R-word" when discussing disabled individuals.

A cornerstone of the "Spread The Word" initiative is its emphasis on youth leadership -- empowering those leaders to call out offensive language and hold their peers accountable for their treatment of all classmates, including their disabled peers.

It's a problem that hasn't been scrubbed from the sports world. Twice since 2011, LeBron James has used the R-word in interviews with media.

Haden, who now plays in the same city as LeBron, is aware of the comments -- but believes they were learning experiences for the NBA star.

"Besides, there are other lessons to learn," Haden tells ESPN. "I would encourage him, or anyone, to go to a Special Olympics event.

"That's where you'll see the pure joy of competition, a joy we should all remember, no matter how big we get."

Portland Trail Blazer star Damian Lillard is also a Global Ambassador, and last year he called out a Twitter troll for mocking a Special Olympics competitor:

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When Javorius Allen heard about the blockbuster movie The Blind Side, he had one thought: It sounded a lot like his own life story.

That was a big moment for a kid who suffered through long stretches of poverty and homelessness as a kid, all while trying to avoid gangs and other elements that threatened to compromise his future.

As Ryan Mink explains on, The Blind Side taught Allen that his story wasn't unique. This spring, he was drafted into the NFL by the Baltimore Ravens -- the same team that once featured Michael Oher, the protagonist of the book and movie.

Oher left the team after the 2013 season, but his story was well known to Ravens fans. Now Allen, a running back from USC, serves as a reminder of the pipeline to salvation that football can serve for athletes growing up amid poverty and trouble.

Growing up in a country town north of Tallahassee, Florida, Allen worked hard just to stay alive. He took his first job at 7, tending to pigs on a farm for $10 a day.

"A country town has a lot of sad stories," Allen told Mink. "A lot of people that were great –- better than me –- had potential to do big things. But they were just hanging around the wrong people."

The son of a mother who started having kids when she was 14, Allen was partially raised by her grandmother. Allen considers that decision to be the best one she ever made.

But even with grandma, life was hard. The front door leaked water and, occasionally, snakes. A hole in the bathroom reached all the way to the dirt below, and roaches could be heard running around when the power went out.

Allen's life changed when he was 12, and his oldest brother was convicted for attempted murder. That landed the future football player with the local Carrie Wilson Boys & Girls club, where he met the club's director, Mickey Cullen.

"You could tell he was a good kid right off the bat," Cullen told Mink. "He was well mannered, raised well by his grandma, very smart. I saw a lot of good qualities in him."

Allen shared with Cullen his desire to play football, and Cullen began driving him 40 minutes to practice. As Allen continued to play football, he spent more time at the Cullens' sprawling property, and when he entered high school, he and the Cullens decided he would become a permanent member of the family.

Allen wound up losing his grandma, Alice, while he was playing football at USC. He scrawled her name on tape placed over his wrists and kissed the tape after every touchdown.

Then, after rushing for 2,274 yards for the Trojans, Allen became the 125th pick of the 2015 NFL draft. He's also bringing to the NFL a college degree, becoming the first person in his family to earn such an achievement.

"Obviously we were proud of him being drafted and his football stuff, but graduating from college was a bigger deal than the NFL," Cullen says. "He was a really good kid. He was a good young man. Now he's growing up into being a good man."

Marcedes Lewis didn't have a ton of opportunities as a child in California. Coming from a mother who had him when she was 15, the Jaguars tight end saw an opportunity to impact local youth by giving them an outlet he never had: A free football camp. It's a place where the kids can connect with positive role models. As his annual camp enters his seventh year, Lewis discusses the importance of serving his community.

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Frank Thomas, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last summer in his first year of eligibility, remains active in the game as an analyst with Fox and a representative for Gillette, a longtime MLB sponsor. Thomas played the majority of his 19-year career with the White Sox, and he finished with a career batting average of .301, plus 521 home runs and an OPS of .974. The PostGame caught up with Thomas on his way to Cincinnati for this year's MLB All-Star festivities.


ThePostGame: How has retirement been treating you?
FRANK THOMAS: It's good. I'm glad to be out here seeing the home run derby and hanging out with Gillette.

TPG: Can you give me some details of how that is going?
THOMAS: I'm happy to be out here with Gillette. For me, it was really easy to partner up with them since I've been using their products for over 20 years now. I'm getting fresh, new razors every day in the Gillette Shave Club. A lot of people don't realize just how cheap these razors can be. I mean, I can hold on to a Gillette razor for a month and be fine. Come hang out with me and Gillette at the Home Run Derby this year. ... We will be back at the Gillette Grooming Lounge.

TPG: Who had the best beard game back when you were playing?
THOMAS: Best beard/facial hair definitely goes to Goose Gossage. That guy had the chops. I liked his the most.

TPG: Everyone remembers the 519-footer you knocked out of Three Rivers Stadium back in '94. How do you remember it?
THOMAS: It felt like a breakout party. I remember telling my coaches and trying to show people that I could hit those kinds of balls. I knew I could hit one 500 feet and not come unglued. So when I hit that, I felt like people finally knew.

TPG: Did you have a favorite visiting ballpark to hit at?
THOMAS: There was always something about hitting there that I liked.

TPG: How do you like the set-up for the new home run derby?
THOMAS: For the most part I like it. I don't like the added time for distance. I don't like the idea of guys hitting for distance to get more time rather than trying to hit as many home runs as possible. Because that's why you are out there. Not for distance.

TPG: Being one of the most impactful DHs in history, how do you feel about the DH tag in baseball?
THOMAS: I never accepted the DH tag because I won two MVPs as a first baseman for the White Sox. So to me that tag was never really important but I did use it during the middle of my career.

TPG: How was your relationship/rivalry with Ken Griffey Jr.?
THOMAS: It was a friendly rivalry. A friendly rivalry. Griffey had this natural transition into the game learning from his father because his father was still playing for Seattle back then. But we respected each other and definitely had a little rivalry going.

TPG: I saw a clip of him teasing you at an All-Star Game, did that happen often?
THOMAS: Yeah, we used to mess around a ton. It was a friendly rivalry so yeah, he would tease me here and there.

TPG: How do you feel about Barry Bonds being kept out of the Hall of Fame?
THOMAS: You know, it’s tough, man. He made his bed and now he has to lie in it. He's one of the best players of all time. But he made the decision to take those actions late in his career and now they're affecting him. But it's tough.

TPG: Who would you add to the Hall of Fame?
THOMAS: Well there's a ton of guys. But right now the two guys that I feel need to be in are Mike Mussina and Tim Raines. I think they deserve to be in there.

TPG: Any good stories from "Mr. Baseball" and working with Tom Selleck?
THOMAS: Well, at the time Tom was big movie star but he really did care about the game. He was a quality guy who wanted to emulate the game and made sure it didn’t look bad. He made sure to get in the cages so he didn't embarrass baseball and could make it real.

TPG: Who's going to win this year’s home run derby and who is the best home run hitter in the league right now?
THOMAS: Hooo, well. There's guys like Albert Pujols who have the experience doing this before. A guy like Pujols can come out and knock a ton out of the park, so you gotta watch for him. But at the same time you have to be watching for guys like Prince Fielder. He could win it too.

TPG: Are you allowed at public batting cages?
THOMAS: Nope. Too dangerous. (Laughs).

Pat Tillman's alma mater has unveiled new practice jerseys that serve as an homage to the fallen war hero.

Before he left his NFL career to become a member of the elite Army Rangers, Tillman was a standout linebacker for Arizona State. Through a new partnership with Adidas, the school has created camouflage-themed practice jerseys that pay tribute to Tillman, who in 1997 was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

Tillman was famous for abandoning a successful NFL career to join the military after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He became an elite member of the armed forces, serving with the Rangers. He was killed in battle in Afghanistan in 2004, which was later revealed to be the result of friendly fire.

Tillman posthumously received the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. Jon Krakauer wrote a book, "Where Men Win Glory," about the government's efforts to cover-up Tillman's cause of death.

The special practice jerseys are just the latest of several honors bestowed on Tillman from the sports world. Arizona State previously named the locker room walkway into Sun Devil Stadium as the "Pat Tillman Memorial Tunnel."

The NFL's Arizona Cardinals also erected a statue of Tillman outside their stadium in 2006.

Here's a cool bit nugget of trivia about Andrew Wiggins and Justise Winslow. Each of their dads once had Hakeem Olajuwon as a teammate. Mitchell Wiggins played with Olajuwon in the NBA on the Houston Rockets. Rickie Winslow was part of the Houston Cougars' Phi Slama Jama team that went to the Final Four with Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Check out more of the conversation between Wiggins, the reigning NBA rookie of the year, and Winslow, a projected first-round pick in the 2015 NBA draft:

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For Matt Stoltz, the 700-mile ride from Houston to Kansas City is treacherous. It is the middle of June, which means heat and humidity, and Stoltz is making the trip alone. On a bicycle.

"You pitch a tent, bundle up, crawl in and wake up in the morning and do it all again,” he says.

After eight days, Stoltz could see his final destination, Kauffman Stadium, on the horizon as he rode toward the outskirts of town. The nights alone, the heat, even that one night the tent flooded -- it all felt worth it now.

He had made it to ballpark No. 11.

“Biking to the stadium is always one of my favorite days," Stoltz says. "Once you see it on the skyline, the adrenaline kind of takes over and you realize ballpark No. 11 is right there and you cruise on in and take the ballpark in."

Kansas City was just another stop on Stoltz’s 11,000-mile, six-month journey from Seattle to Milwaukee, where he will attend a game in all 30 Major League Baseball parks. He's doing it for Biking for Baseball, a non-profit organization that helps youth mentoring programs across the country.

Stoltz said his goal is to raise $100,000 for Biking for Baseball and he's determined to reach that number.

"If I tell someone I'm going to do something, I'm going to find a way to make it happen," Stoltz says. "I don't like to go back on my word."

Stoltz, 22, graduated Wisconsin with a degree in community and nonprofit leadership in the winter, a semester early, to begin training for the trip. He also wasn’t ready for the work force, so he decided to chase his dreams instead.

"When I thought of this idea of biking to all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums, as a baseball fan, it was on my bucket list to make it to all 30," he says. "So doing it by bike was a challenge that I just couldn’t pass up."

Growing up in Wisconsin Rapids, a small town in the center of the state, Stoltz and his family fell in love with the game of baseball and the Milwaukee Brewers.

He began playing soccer and baseball as a child and realized the value of his mentors, including coaches and teachers. He wanted to help those in need, so he'd bike to the Boys & Girls Club every day of his summer, trying to be a mentor to children in his hometown.

"The relationships that he formed working with kids kind of just set up a positive environment and he enjoyed it so much he kept coming back for more," Stoltz's brother, Dan, says. "… He found something he really loved and kept up with it and kept going with it."

By 2012, Stoltz was ready to do something bigger for children. He completed a bike ride from his home to Florida that year, helping to raise money to buy sports equipment for children in developing countries.

At the same time, a group of four men, led by Rex Roberts and Adam Kremers rode across the country, watching games in all 30 MLB parks along the way. The ride was the first in the history of Biking for Baseball, which Roberts and Kremers helped established in 2011.

"We started having the conversation of how to combine the things that we love and the seed of an idea got started," Roberts said. "Over the next couple years, we started talking about it enough and it grew to the point where it was carrying enough momentum where people were afraid to say no and back out of it."

Roberts, now executive director of Biking for Baseball, and his team’s ride caught the attention of Stoltz and the idea remained in his head through the spring of 2014, while he was studying abroad in Kenya. He was in the midst of one journey and already thinking about another.

"I definitely have that adventurous personality," Stoltz says. "I have my bucket list and I kind of get to it and I don’t want it to get too dusty. I keep crossing things off.”

He was trying to plan his trip when he tweeted at Biking for Baseball to ask for advice. The more questions Stoltz had for Roberts and his team, the more they were interested in sponsoring his run.

By October 2014, Roberts told Stoltz that Biking for Baseball wanted to sponsor him and they began mapping the journey. It was set to start April 6 and end October 3, and Stoltz began training immediately.

Stoltz’s trip started in Seattle with more 900 miles separating him from his next stop in San Francisco. He made it to the first checkpoint and relief set in.

"You get to San Francisco and you look at a map and think, ‘Man, I just rode all of that,'" Stoltz says. "I had all of this pain, but I overcame it. When you look back and see how far you've ridden, it's kind of rewarding in that sense, but at the same time, you have so many miles left."

Then it was on to Oakland, then San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas and Houston. He'd take days off only to watch the game, and bike out of town the next morning.

Stoltz says he is enjoying his trip, which has spanned more than 5,000 miles to this point. The trek from St. Louis to Miami, where he’ll have to bike an average of 100 miles per day for almost a month, is his toughest test, but one for which he is prepared.

"It's definitely in the back of my mind," Stoltz says. "That stretch has been circled on my calendar. It’s going to challenging, but the support of people who I’ve met and people who I haven’t even met who are really backing the trip, it really helps. This month is going to be the one that pushes me to my limits, but I’m up for the challenge."

Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns is projected to go to the Minnesota Timberwolves as the top overall pick in the NBA draft. It's a hectic time for Towns, but he squeezed in a visit to the E3 convention in Los Angeles. We caught up with Towns to talk about his outlook on the NBA, his favorite video game and an imaginary friend named Karlito. Because he is from New Jersey, we also had to ask him about going to White Castle.

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In an interview with the French sports magazine L'Equipe, Michael Jordan said he's pretty sure he could beat players on the Charlotte Hornets, the team he owns, if they played him one on one. Jordan is 52.

Perhaps not to be outdone, Herschel Walker made an appearance Thursday on WFAN radio with hosts Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton and said he can compete in the NFL today. Walker is 53.

"Running backs today don't play every play," Walker said. "They only play, like, a couple of plays and they go out of the game."

Walker also said he could contribute as a kickoff returner.

"The last time I ran a 40, I ran a 4.3," Walker said. "That was like a year ago. That was when I had not been doing any track work."

Walker was an All-American in track at Georgia. He also participated in the Winter Olympics as a bobsledder. More recently, Walker has competed in MMA, winning both of his bouts, but the most recent was more than four years ago.

"I know I could still play if I wanted to play," Walker said of football. "I thought about it, but I'm still fighting. I've gotta get out of the fighting first. Once I get out of the MMA stuff, then I may go back and play. I want to be the George Foreman of football."

Here's footage of the WFAN segment:

Hall of Famer Dave Winfield is working with the Capital One Cup, a competition that honors the top Division I athletic programs each year. Playing for Minnesota, Winfield was the College World MVP in 1973. He tallied 3,110 hits and 465 home runs in his 23-year MLB career. He was also one of the first athletes to start his own foundation. ThePostGame caught up with Winfield for his thoughts on baseball, a Yankee prospect with similar skills to his and more.


ThePostGame: Why don't you tell a little bit about what you're doing with Capital One Cup?
DAVE WINFIELD: Well, as a former college athlete, Capital One was looking for a representative that could talk about their program called the Capital One Cup. This is the fifth year of existence and they're really recognizing and honoring Division I athletic programs for their success on the field. They support athletic and academic pursuits. It's a great relationship that we’ve established, and I'm letting people know about it. At the end of the year, during each year, they compile points for winning programs. If you're a national champion you get 60 points. If you're 1 through 10 you get a certain amount of points. At the end of the spring programs, you add them up and the winning men's program will get $200,000 and the women’s will do the same. Right now, we're at the College World Series and the two men's teams that are close to achieving this status: Ohio State is No. 1 because of the football championship and the wrestling, but Virginia is right on their heels and they have a very good chance of overtaking them at the end. On the women's side, Stanford is in the lead and Florida has a chance to overtake them because of the track and field championships. When it's all over, there’s a trophy and there’s the money for the program and they get honored at the ESPY’s in July.

TPG: What memories do you have from playing with Minnesota in the College World Series?
WINFIELD: The whole experience is branded in my mind. It was actually the last time that Minnesota, a northern team, had been to the World Series. They were champions, could you believe, in 1960 and 1964. So in 1973 it wasn't so far off. We lost to the two teams that went for the championship. USC was the ultimate champion and Arizona State came in second. We lost to those two teams. The last one I'll always remember. My last game in college I was pitching a one-hitter going into the ninth. We're up 7-0. When relief came into pitch, we gave up the lead and lost 8-7 and that was it. It was heartbreaking but it was still a memorable experience for all involved and all the guys on the team will remain friends, people I love and respect. That's what I remember. I went as hard as I could and as long as I could and then my next step, a week later, I signed with the San Diego Padres and off to the next level of my career.

TPG: You were drafted by teams in three different sports. How was that process for you, garnering attention from all of these teams?
WINFIELD: It was a very good thing. The Vikings kind of came out the blue, but they saw me up close and they said, 'The guy is big, strong, good hands, can run. Maybe he'd like to be tight end for Fran Tarkenton and the Purple People Eaters.' It was a wonderful honor, but I'll leave that to someone else. In basketball, I knew I'd get drafted. We had five guys off our Minnesota team get drafted. We had a good team. Baseball, I knew I'd get drafted, so to look back, I don't know if anyone has been drafted in three sports since. I don't know if I'd recommend all that it took to be in a position to be drafted like that. In fact, nowadays, parents start funneling their kids into one sport when they're 8 or 9 years old and that's no good. Let the kid play all kinds of sports to see what they’re good at, what they like and not burn them out. That's kind of what happened to me and I just had a wonderful opportunity.

TPG: And you knew baseball was where you wanted to go right away?
WINFIELD: It was, but you can't say that when you're negotiating. I said, 'If you don't let me go to the major leagues when you draft me, I'm going to go play basketball.' That’s how that played out. Basketball is the secondary sport, but I love it. I watch the playoffs, know all the guys, hang out with them. Football was more of a spectator sport. I'll leave that to someone else.

TPG: One of the goals that you had was to start a foundation. This was something a little unprecedented for athletes back then, so can you go through the process of starting your foundation?
WINFIELD: You have to think, in 1973 athletes weren't the multi-millionaire types of people that you see today. I was very grateful and thankful that people supported me all the way up to the professional level, so the first thing I did was give $1,000 out of bonus, which wasn't that much money back then, for a scholarship program in my home of St. Paul, Minnesota. Last weekend, we had the 39th annual scholarship dinner in St. Paul, so I'm very happy about that. It's still in operation. My foundation was a more complex, more sophisticated, multi-city approach to giving back. I did that for 22 years and then I said now my foundation has to be my kids, and to take care of them. It’s something that you have to be committed to and I was because I appreciated people helping me be successful. There’s some steps you must follow, with paperwork and meetings and all that stuff. But if you’re committed, that’s the way to go.

TPG: Are you happy to see the philanthropy in sports now, with many athletes starting foundations?
WINFIELD: Definitely. Their agent probably instructed them that this was a good way to endear yourself to a community and if you’re committed, these are the steps to take. I’m glad they’re doing it. They’re successful in life, so to give back, to be thankful, to be gracious like that, it’s a good thing. It’s a big component in being a good person, so I’m glad to see some many people doing. When I started doing it, I had no clue that it would catch on and that this would be something they’re instructed to do. You plant a seed and you see it flourish.

TPG: I hear you're a big fan of Giancarlo Stanton. What do you like about him?
WINFIELD: He’s from Los Angeles and he lives out here and I got the chance to meet him before he became the big star that he is, the highest paid player in the game. I just appreciate a big man being able to perform at a high level. Baseball is an intricate sport. The compact guys usually have an advantage, but when I see a big guy that can perform, that can run, that can field, that can throw. He’s one of the many that I appreciate. There’s so many good guys in the game. I see Mike Trout play a lot. I see Clayton Kershaw. I can look around the league. I see good guys that give back. Robinson Cano does a lot of good things. Derek Jeter, who I’ve known for many years, he’s the icon of the game. He's gone now, but others will take his place. I’m just very happy to be close to the game and get to know these guys very well.

TPG: What did you think of Derek Jeter's final season and the fanfare that went with it?
WINFIELD: How do you say it? He had a fairy-tale career. It's like you couldn't script it. How do you come through in the clutch all the time? How are you on a winning team so often? And I don't say this out of envy of jealousy of being upset' there's no one holding grudges against Derek. How do you play in New York for 20 years and escape unscathed? Unprecedented. He had a heck of a career and he’s entitled to do whatever he wants in life now and he’s enjoying himself.

TPG: I hear there's a prospect getting a few comparisons to you. Have you heard about Aaron Judge at all?
WINFIELD: Oh yeah. I got a chance to meet him during spring training. With the Players' Association, we go see every ball club and meet every person and tell them their rights and what they must do in the workplace. I said, 'Who's this Aaron Judge?' You think I’m a big guy; he's Paul Bunyan. He's like 6 foot, 8 inches, but stealth, strong and smooth in the outfield. I haven't seen him play, but a lot of people say he’s a young Dave Winfield. He’s another young guy that I’m going to follow. Aaron Judge.

TPG: I'm going to try to get some predictions out of you now. Do you have a favorite for the College World Series?
WINFIELD: No, I don't have a favorite. I respect all these teams being there. I know the coach at Virginia. I’ve spoken at this school before and they have a great fundraiser and program. I could look at Fullerton, a California team. I can’t say flip a coin because there’s eight teams, but just let the best team win and have some fun guys.

TPG: The same goes for the MLB season. Do you have any teams that you like so far?
WINFIELD: Being in California, I watch teams like the Dodgers. I think the Padres are going to put up a strong effort before the season is over. They've come a long way. Again, I try not to have as many favorites. Working with the Players’ Association, I see all the guys and all of the teams and I just wish them well and hope that they’re healthy and play a long time and take care of business. No real favorites anymore.

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