NFL Media will debut a three-part docuseries featuring New Orleans Saints All-Pro linebacker, Demario Davis and his Devoted Dreamers Academy, an after-school program launching January 2023 designed to serve New Orleans youth through sports, academics and mentorship. The announcement comes following Davis' being named the Saints 2022 Man of the Year, making him the club nominee for this year's Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
The series will air exclusively on NFL.com and Fast Channels (Pluto, Tubi, Peacock), beginning Sunday, Dec. 18 with the inaugural two episodes airing in December during Inspire Change Weeks 15 and 16. Episode three will debut on February 26, 2023.
"Every part of the work my wife, Tamela, and I have done since founding the Devoted Dreamers Foundation has been building towards our goal of starting the Devoted Dreamers Academy, a new program model that leverages sport as an educational opportunity," said Davis. "When young people have access to education, mentorship, opportunity, and exposure, they are unstoppable. I hope that through the Devoted Dreamers Academy, we can help shift the paradigm of what's possible for our students, contributing to a brighter future for the city of New Orleans."
Education is a core pillar of Inspire Change, the NFL's social justice initiative, which showcases the collaborative efforts of players, owners and the League to create positive change in communities across the country and ensure that equal opportunity becomes a reality for all.
A talented athlete who excelled in school, Davis had a difficult childhood influenced by drugs, alcohol, gangs, violence and eventually jail. In 2008, while a student-athlete at Arkansas State University, Davis found a new calling through his faith which inspired him to transform his life – and ultimately to mentor and guide others the same way he was aided. Following his rookie NFL season, Davis and his wife Tamela founded the Devoted Dreamers Foundation in 2013 to further that mission with the goal of equipping the next generation of leaders with the tools to be successful, spiritually, mentally, and physically.
New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis was on hand for the Devoted Dreamers 7v7 team tryouts. With an assist from his teammate, wide receiver Michael Thomas, Davis and his coaches put young athletes through a series of drills at the indoor practice facility at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center on Saturday, August 27, 2022.
"NFL Media's Entertainment & Initiatives team is honored and excited to share Demario's impactful life story and his journey to opening Devoted Dreamers Academy," said NFL Media Head of Content, Entertainment & Initiatives Shayna Hayes, also an executive producer in the series. "This is exactly the type of 'helmets-off' storytelling that brings to life the important work so many of our players do in their communities in partnership with the League through our Inspire Change initiative."
With a focus on education and mentorship, founding a school was always part of Davis' long-term plan to inspire change in the community. Devoted Dreamers Academy will start in New Orleans, with the goal of providing scholarship opportunities. This limited series will follow the process of opening the school and shadow three students as they work to become part of the inaugural class. The Devoted Dreamers Academy will launch an after-school program in January 2023.
"Demario's commitment to education and mentorship in is an inspiration to all of us at the NFL," said Anna Isaacson, NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility. "We're thrilled to highlight the work he's doing to in New Orleans and beyond through this docuseries."
Since 2017, the NFL family has provided more than $244 million in grants have been awarded to social justice nonprofit organizations as part of Inspire Change, including over 1,800 Inspire Change matching grants awarded to current and former NFL players who are doing philanthropic work to ensure that access to opportunity is a reality for all and to create progress across four key areas: education, economic advancement, police and community relations, and criminal justice reform.
The series is executive produced by Demario Davis, Shayna Hayes and Angela Ellis with Tine Fields acting as producer.