Najee Harris talks about childhood, relationships, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH — There’s much more to Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris than what Steelers Nation sees on the field. And it all starts with a man who wanted to find a way out of the situations he was in early in life.

In a sit-down interview with Jenna Harner, Harris said, “I got an opportunity to play football and to do stuff I’m doing now. So I just ran with it.”

Harris, his four older siblings and his mom spent time in homeless shelters while Harris was growing up. He describes his mom as his rock. Tianna Hicks knowns when her son is angry, he doesn’t like to be seen. He wants to disappear, what he calls “face to the earth.”

“She lets me cool down for a minute, you know, a couple of days or whatever,” said Harris. “Then she reaches out to me and says, ‘I know you’re mad, but I was thinking about you…but you know, when you’re ready to talk, I’m here.’”

Another relationship that has helped shape Harris as a person is his bond with coach Mike Tomlin.

At Alabama, during Pro Day, Harris didn’t know what to make of Tomlin. “All the coaches were talking to me but him,” said Harris. “So I’m standing here, and he’s just over there starting at me. It’s funny because he was like, I don’t want to make it seem like, I’m interested in you.”

Since Harris joined the Steelers, he and Tomlin have formed a fantastic bond. “I go over to his house a lot,” said Harris.  “Anytime he’s cooking,  he always invited me over there. For (Tomlin), he wants to build a relationship and just know that it’s more than football here.”

Another relationship dating back to his college days is with fellow Alabama product Minkah Fitzpatrick. Harris said, “I think he’s good as my brother. For sure, big brother you could say. Just seeing how he carries himself, with carrying a notebook around, talking about the little things that maybe the defensive people look at from the players.”

Harris is holding a dinner for his foundation, “Da Bigger Picture,” on Sept. 30.  You can get tickets at: dabiggerpicture.org

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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