Today - Season 2014
Peter Kramer/NBC

TODAY   |  January 29, 2014

NFL stars help change young boys’ lives

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb and New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich are helping two young boys build their confidence and overcome bullying and discrimination in their schools. The boys, Elijah Williams and Tyson Wheelock, say they’ve had fun spending time with these big role models.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> they are strong and tough as nails on the field. you might be surprised to find out professional football players faced bullying, discrimination and hate at some point that their lives.

>> players are matched up with kids going through probables of their own. they're here and each took a boy under their wings to help them build their confidence. take a look. this is really special.

>> weird is different but it's kooch cool. you're one of a kind. it makes what you do even better.

>> kind of surprises me that you say you've been in trouble. you seem like a really, really smart kid.

>> everybody says that.

>> that lets me know you are really smart, you just made knuckle head decisions.

>> mark and randall are here along with elijah williams andty andty tieson.

>> when i found out what was about, i thought back to times in my life when i felt different. feeling different now days is not a good thing. i think being different should be a good thing. elijah is an amazing example of how something is a little different, but he accepts it.

>> you have cerebral palsy . kids make fun of you at school and tease you. how is your experience with this big guy helped you get through that?

>> it was fun. it was nice.

>> you got on a horse?

>> yeah.

>> that was really fun.

>> his smile was just huge all day. wasn't it?

>> yeah.

>> that's a great shot.

>> randall , to move onto you. you felt like the two of you connected. what was the bond about?

>> i think i could see myself in tyson. he's a very smart kid. he knows right from wrong. he's letting people influence him to do the wrong things. i was trying to give guidance to make the right decisions and make the choice for himself.

>> kids pressure you to do something bad and you went along with it?

>>> yeah.

>> how have things changed since you had the relationship?

>> i changed my group of friends.

>> was that hard?

>> yeah.

>> smart. wow.

>> that's what it takes.

>> elijah you look up and see someone that had difficulties.

>> i had bone cancer . they told me i would never walk again. i was walking with a limp for a long time. i told elijah . what did you think about that?

>> it is like --

>> it was motivating right?

>> yeah.

>> you were told you might never walk again. you kept doing your thing and did the same thing.

>> you're both doing so great. sometimes that's all it takes one person mentoring you saying you know what buddy, i went through that too. look what you can make of your life. good for you guys. very proud of you. proud of you gentleman taking time out of your lives. it's so important.

>> you can catch the nfl characters unite on the usa network this friday at 7/6 central.

>>> we're back with nfl players mark and randall cob as well as elijah williams and his mother. and tyson and his mother nicole.

>> we have surprises. hi there. thank you.

>> you're going to announce some gifts?

>> i am. so on behalf of gmc and characters unite, we want to celebrate everything you have done. never say never attitude and perseverance. we want to surprise you with a couple of things. so randall ?

>> nicole, we know that you've been having car trouble . we want to do what we can to help you out. on behalf of gmc and characters unite, we want to give you a new car.

>> wow.

>> here's the keys.

>> it's a beauty. look at it.

>> thank you.

>> you're welcome. you deserve it.

>> i know how much you need it. you have been going through tough times.

>> yes.

>> that's great.

>> thank you.

>> what about you sir?

>> what did you tell me the first day we met about your math test?

>> i got an a.

>> you got an a. elijah you've been excellent in school. on behalf of gmc we want to help you continue your education. four year scholarship to college.

>> oh my gosh.

>> you deserve it buddy.

>> wow.

>> mom, what doing?

>> thank you. i just started college myself. this really means a lot. i wanted to show him that school is like everything now days. thank you.

>> you're welcome.

>> do you know what you want to study?

>> i want to study like algebra and stuff.

>>> wow. so happy for both families. you work so hard. we feel this is such a big day .

>> this has been the best day ever . we had jeff garlin drew brees and all you guys.