The decision to do yoga was rooted in Alexander’s desire to do something out of the norm from traditional interactions between athletes and kids. Instead of playing basketball or going to a movie, Alexander wanted to expand minds.
Yoga, an activity Alexander had a little experience in, seemed like the perfect fit.
Cunningham, who works with veteran defensive back Tramon Williams and several other players currently on the Packers’ roster, brought the kids through the poses, while Alexander worked his way from one mat to another.
He offered encouragement to each child until finally coming across a boy wearing Alexander’s No. 23. Despite seeing his jersey scattered across Lambeau Field in recent months, Alexander still gets emotional when he sees someone wearing his jersey.
As a kid, he owned one Michael Vick Falcons jersey, a fitting present for a seventh birthday. Alexander treasured it and still pinches himself at the realization there are now kids doing the exact same thing with his jersey.
Alexander thanked the child before moving on to speak to the next kid, trading several high-fives along the way.
“To go out and spend that money on a jersey of mine, I feel like I owe you,” Alexander said. “I feel like I owe you a hello, a picture or something because $100 is not easy for everybody to come by. I’m just really appreciative of the fact people are taking notice.”
Alexander eventually made his way back to the front, where he went through a series of different yoga poses. As impressive as the rookie’s flexibility was, Alexander commanded the respect of all the adults when he successfully helped Cunningham quiet the room for meditation, playfully warning the kids in a comedic tone that they’d owe him $5 if they spoke.
When one child called his bluff, Alexander instantly joked: “I’m gonna need that.” The quip initially garnered a round of laughter and then a wave of unexpected silence.
It’s not uncommon for the Boys and Girls Club to receive offers to travel for a sponsored event, but rarely does the benefactor come along for the ride. It wasn’t just Alexander’s presence that made the event special, though. It’s how engaged he was with the kids, asking each for his or her name at the start of very conversation.
“Jaire answered the questions from the kids so meaningfully,” said Stephanie Nespoli, the director for communication and development for the Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay. “I thought he really shared things about himself to them that helps them relate to him more.
“It helps them realize that they’re not much different from him and maybe if they keep working hard, they can reach success like he did. I think that was really meaningful to them.”
That energy radiated throughout the room and the children’s excitement to meet a Packers player could be seen when hands shot up to ask Alexander questions after meditation. While things started on a lighter note – the first two questions were whether Alexander was married or had a girlfriend – they dove into deeper topics like why he chose to play football.
Alexander’s answer is two-fold. Picking up the sport when he was seven, Alexander just wanted to get out of the house, but once he became good at it, the game served as motivation as a means to a better life for both Alexander and his family.
“Once you are able to hone in on one thing and you perfect it, it comes second nature. That’s what football is for me,” Alexander said. “Just being able to get out of my situation. That was a motivational factor in why I did everything I do. I ended up falling in love with the game now. That’s why I’m here.”