He's a five-time Pro Bowler. A former MVP of the NFL. He owns or shares 28 Chargers team records. But, today LaDainian Tomlinson was just another customer at Schmaltz sandwich shop in downtown Waco.
I'll have to say, with my job, I've met alot of famous people. But I can't remember being so excited about running into someone before, than I was today when I crossed paths with LaDainian Tomlinson. Maybe it's because it wasn't a planned interview, or maybe it's because I left that sandwich shop thinking those aren't just stories you hear. LT is genuine and very nice.
I had just finished my workout today and was grabbing a quick call in order at Schmaltz around the noon hour , when I found myself standing in line behind the famous running back. It actually took him turning around, for me to catch a glimpse of who he was. He'd probably been in line in front of me for 5 minutes before I realized it. He was dressed in his workout gear and looked like he'd just come from his annual camp that's in town this week.
Since he was literally inches away, I couldn't help but tap on his shoulder and tell him how much Waco appreciates him and how fun it's been to cover him in the media for so many years. He couldn't have been nicer...flashing that smile I'd seen so many times before on-camera, and taking time to visit with me while he paid the cashier. He eventually made his way over to the corner table where he sat with his three friends. He was even kind enough to say goodbye to me again when I made my way out the door.
I've always been a fan of LaDainian Tomlinson, not because I'm a huge football fan, though he's incredible to watch, but because of all the great things he does off the field, too. For instance, every home Chargers games, Tomlinson donates tickets to 21 under-privileged kids. Then, after the game, he takes the kids out for dinner and a night on the town. And, at the end of the night, each kid leaves with a goodie bag full of games and school supplies.
And think about why he's in Waco. Every year, the NFL superstar puts on his camp here, giving local kids the chance to meet and learn from one of the best the game has ever seen. LT doesn't have to make time in his busy schedule for Waco, but every year, he does. If that's not proof LT hasn't forgotten his roots I don't know what is.
There are plenty of celebrities and athletes that forget where they came from. LaDainian Tomlinson is not one of them. And he proved that once again today during his lunch stop to a restaurant I suspect he enjoyed, long before the world knew the name LT.