HAWKINSVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The NFL's Charles Johnson is in middle Georgia this weekend teaching life and team-building skills at his foundation's second annual two-day camp in Hawkinsville.
"I wasn't doing things perfect, but I stayed my ground and tried to maintain and surround myself with a lot of good people," says Johnson. "I just kept grinding, and you see where I'm at now, but like I tell them every day, 'Don't try to be like me, be better than me.'"
Johnson, who ranked second in the NFL last season with seven forced fumbles, brings some of his NFL and NBA buddies here to his hometown to help out.
"Everybody has a different story," says NFL player Sherrod Martin, who played with the Panthers from 2009-2012 but is now a free agent. "We all come from similar backgrounds, and we like to give back."
For these Hawkinsville kids, getting the chance to meet real-life NFL and NBA stars is a dream come true.
"It gives you a sign to see, 'I can do that'," says 11-year-old Tavian Sentel. "It makes you feel like, 'I'll work for this.'"
Johnson doesn't plan to stop this tradition anytime soon.
"Oh yeah, I'm going to continue to do it," he says. "We had 600 kids sign up this year and we had 300 last year. Hopefully next year we can get more sponsors and keep on trying to build from this. You never know where it could end up going."