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With around ten minutes to go in tonight's Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, the Virginia Tech Hokies trailed by a touchdown. They had failed to score a touchdown all day, and it was clear that the defense would have to come up with a big play for the Hokies to win. Then something remarkable happened - defensive back Antone Exum intercepted a pass on the near sideline and raced third yards into Rutgers territory. The interception set up the tying Hokie touchdown, and Virginia Tech went on to win the game in overtime.

For most players, that big play would have been the biggest of the week. Antone Exum is different, though. For him, the play was just the culmination of a week well lived and perhaps a just reward for a just act. That's because earlier this week, Exum exhibited the sort of selflessness that should be celebrated.
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College football fans will know that bowl games pay handsome prizes to all of the players who make the trip. Players receive a gift package of jewelry, gift cards, electronics, and other things depending upon the sponsor of the bowl. Exum and his Virginia Tech teammates received, among other things, a $470 gift card to Best Buy. Rather than buying a bunch of stuff for himself, Exum decided to brighten the world a little bit. With the help of a couple of teammates, Exum took three young boys on a shopping spree that they won't soon forget.

CBS Sportsline notes that Exum was busy buying things for himself when the desire to help suddenly hit him. Tom Fornelli quoted Exum when he wrote:

"I had my cart with my stuff in it, and I saw [three kids] walking and I was already thinking about it, so I put my stuff back and I was looking for these kids," Exum told the Orlando Sentinel. "They were playing on the PS3 [display]. That's actually what the littlest one ended up getting. I think that's what he wanted for Christmas."
Taking care of business in the right way is nothing new for Exum. A redshirt junior on the field, he's already graduated from Virginia Tech in three years with a degree in finance. And his act should be distinguished from those good acts of professional athletes. Though a professional athlete choosing to spend a portion of his salary on toys for kids is worthy of praise, Exum's sacrifice is even more special. College football players are not allowed to have regular jobs and they depend upon their bowl spoils. While many might have bought a new television or some other additional piece of electronics, Exum chose to make a positive impact on kids who had even less than him.

In the fourth quarter of tonight's game, Exum got his due, making a huge play that propelled his team to victory. The impact of that play will pale in comparison to the impact he made on three young lives at a local Best Buy.

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Originally posted to Coby DuBose on Criminal Injustice, Race, and Poverty on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:40 PM PST.

Also republished by Virginia Kos.

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