Floyd Mayweather, Darren Blanton

Floyd Mayweather looks at the crowd, but his audience is not boxing fans. Instead they are kids from Houston's Third Ward.

"Who wants to come up and tell me about themselves?" Mayweather asks.

He calls on a girl named Amari. Mayweather hugs her.

"Tell me about yourself," he says.

Amari is 12 and in sixth grade. She moved to Houston from Louisiana. She wants to be "a teacher or a police officer."

"You can be both," Mayweather says.

Amari smiles. Mayweather, known more for his punching skills and lavish cars, has connected with this girl.

This happened months before Mayweather signed to fight UFC star Conor McGregor in a boxing match set for August 26. It was Super Bowl week in Houston, and Mayweather escaped the parties and media circus for a trip to the Third Ward, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the U.S. The Money Team, along with Browns coach Hue Jackson and Bengals cornerback William Jackson III (a Houston native), talked with children at Change Happens!, a non-profit community-based organization that provides after-school and summer programs to local youths between 6 and 17.

"The only thing they like to show on social media or on television is the flashy lifestyle of Floyd Mayweather," Mayweather says. "They never like to show Floyd Mayweather giving back. I'm here to give back, not just my time, but we want to give financially to all the different bad areas around the country.

"I don't want to just give my staff money and say go hand this out. I want to be here, physically, hands-on, giving back my time. I can communicate with the kids, find out what their goals are and what they're trying to accomplish in life, and tell them a little bit about my background and where I come from."

Mayweather was visiting because of his partnership with Moblze Foundation, a non-profit co-founded by Dallas-based venture capitalist Darren Blanton and Jacksonville-based educator Dr. Ceil Pillsbury. Mayweather and Blanton spoke at a Moblze launch event in Washington D.C. on the same day of Donald Trump's inauguration in January. That morning, Mayweather and Blanton co-authored a piece in Fox News Opinion, writing, "Moblze Foundation's mission dovetails with the Trump administration's priority of emphasizing opportunities of entrepreneurship and mentorship in the inner cities."

Moblze's vision is to "build urban empowerment centers in inner city neighborhoods styled after Silicon Valley corporate headquarters." The physical structures are valued in this process, as well as entrepreneurs to invest and high-skilled workers to run the centers.

"We going to create a prototype system kind of like a restaurant chain rollout or like Nordstrom or Target," Blanton says. "We're going to hone in our prototype with our home location. Then we're going to use it like a beta site. Then we'll train all the people in that site when we do our second site and we'll just keeping rolling them out. We want to roll out ten to 30 of them over the next four years."

Blanton describes his upbringing as being a "poor kid" in a "rich neighborhood," Highland Park, Texas. His parents divorced when he was young and he lived with his grandmother during high school. He is a self-described "renegade," who once made Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) police create a roadblock to halt his speeding. Blanton's father cut him off and he was forced to drop out of college two semesters in. He moved into a poor neighborhood in Dallas and started waiting tables.

Blanton lost that job soon after, but around the same time, he met a real estate broker from Cushman & Wakefield. The firm took Blanton in and his growth as a broker began.

"I was mentored by a guy when I was young and thought I was worthless," Blanton says. "He told me I wasn't and he taught me skills that I had and showed me how to use them to become a very successful businessman."

Blanton eventually worked his way into Colt Ventures, which he formed in 2003. Nine companies that Colt Ventures invested in early have since gone on to have market valuations of more than $1 billion.

Blanton and Mayweather became fast friends, bonding over their similar interests, despite different backgrounds differ.

"I think he's a mentor," Blanton says. "And he's a giver. He's the kind of guy that came from nothing and he wants to help people who come from nothing get something. He is a caring, very disciplined, very helpful guy and I think he loves people and he's out here to help people. His motto is, 'Teach a man to fish, don't give him fish.'"

Blanton chose Change Happens! as the duo's Super Bowl destination because he remembered speaking at the establishment a few years earlier. Change Happens! is a modern building surrounded by rundown houses and fields. "We're located in crack alley," says Change Happens! founder and CEO Leslie Smith.

Change Happens! is a good sample for Blanton and Mayweather, in terms of structure and location. "We're gonna put 'em in the ghetto," Blanton says of his planned buildings. "We want to give them what the people that have the best facilities in the world have."

Blanton and Mayweather are comfortable feeding off each other. Mayweather admits he is in awe of Blanton's real estate skills. Blanton is connected with Donald Trump and gets the foundation's foot inside the White House door. But Mayweather, who met with the president-elect at Trump Tower in November, calls Moblze "a nonpartisan effort."

"I worked for the campaign during the election," Blanton says. "I've been helping them to think about how they can really inspire people in the inner city and make it productive. This administration wants to empower entrepreneurship and they want to empower regeneration of the inner city."

Mayweather provides Blanton a powerful connection to the inner city -- an African-American megastar who came out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Sharing their monetary and social power, Blanton and Mayweather plan to push through new philanthropic endeavors under the current administration.

"What kids need is to see someone, really who looks like him, and carrying a positive message to cause them to prepare to go to that next level of life," Smith says.

Smith started Change Happens! in 1989, and it has grown to 18 programs with a staff of more than 60 employees. He joyfully explains he has seen students off to college, medical school and various jobs inside and outside the community. Smith laughs, "They are not known like Floyd," he explains. But, "they are known in their own little world."

Mayweather may have been the highest-profile speaker to ever come through Change Happens! And he didn't sugarcoat his own story.

"My dad got shot while my dad was holding me when I was a little kid," Mayweather told the room of children, administrators and chaperones. "My mother's brother -- my uncle -- shot my dad. One of my aunties who was living with me, she died of AIDS. I had another auntie that died in my house. She OD-ed in my house, so I've been through a lot to get to where I got to, but every day, I stayed strong, stayed positive and stayed happy. That's what it's about."

Mayweather and Blanton plan on taking that same attitude into their work with Moblze. The goals are lofty and will provide challenges, but they have a strong drive to succeed.

Like kids in Houston's Third Ward, they'll need to stay strong, positive and happy to accomplish their goals -- even with the president's help.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.