Florida A&M University (FAMU) senior student Jabari Richardson tries to live out the values his mother passed on.
“My mom always preached to me ‘everybody needs help. Everybody is not able to make it on their own. Don’t let stuff go to waste if somebody can benefit,’” Richardson said.
One morning a week ago, the 22-year-old Quincy native had just exited Interstate 10 at North Monroe Street in Tallahassee when he saw a homeless man standing at the side of the road holding a sign. It read: “Anything helps.”
Richardson, who was moving to a new apartment, was on his way to pay to get his utilities connected. In his trunk were shoes, trousers, and shirts.
At once, Richardson’s mom’s words of admonition came to him. Without hesitation, he pulled off to the side of the road, opened the trunk of his vehicle and handed the man five pairs of shoes, shirts and pants. The man was about as tall as Richardson, who stands at 6-foot-2. The shoes fit the man perfectly.
“I told him ‘You can do whatever you want to do with them. You could sell them.’ As long as he benefited from them, I know I helped,” said Richardson, an interdisciplinary studies and quantitative analysis in social sciences student. “In blessing him, I did my part. I gave him the opportunity to have nice couple of pants. He wasn’t expecting any shoes.”
That roadside random act of kindness was recorded by a passerby and posted on social media.
Within hours, Richardson said, his phone started ringing. The chime of incoming text messages was incessant. The video had gone viral on TikTok. A friend from high school sent him the video. As of Monday, it had been viewed more than 4 million times.
“My mother always says no good deed goes unnoticed,” he said. “That’s really true.”
While Richardson grew up in nearby Gadsden County, he took a roundabout route to FAMU, his mother, Janeal Major’s, alma mater. A point guard, he played basketball at Webber International University, in Babson Park, Florida, and at Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, before transferring to FAMU in fall 2020. He said he always dreamed of coming to FAMU and playing for the Rattlers. Richardson never expected his demonstration of “Excellence with Caring” would get him on TV. But the best part for him was the homeless man’s parting words.
“Thank you, sir,” the man told Richardson. “God is going to bless you,”
He already has.