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NFL linebacker pays off 60 families' layaways before Christmas Day

The manager at the store praised his actions.
Credit: AP
FILE: This is a 2019 photo of Ulysees Gilbert III of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (AP Photo)

OCALA, Fla. — A pro athlete's holiday gesture is warming hearts.

NFL linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III paid off layaway items for more than 60 families at a Burlington Coat Factory store in Ocala, Fla.

Television station WESH-TV says the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker got the idea after seeing other athletes doing similar acts of kindness ahead of Christmas. One grandmother told WESH Gilbert paid off $500 worth of presents intended for her grandchildren.

"My husband and I are both on Social Security and disability," Sherita Graham told the TV station. "We got hurt on the job. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for him. I could tear up now." 

According to Ocala.com, Gilbert partnered up with the nonprofit "Pay Away the Layaway" to take care of thousands of dollars families owed. The organization was launched in 2011 and works to help people pay off items, especially during the back-to-school and holiday seasons.

Gilbert, 22, is an Ocala native who played for Trinity Catholic High School and the University of Akron before his rookie season with the NFL. Speaking to the news outlet, Store Manager Mark Shipman commended his actions.

“He is a good person,” Shipman told Ocala.com. “You could tell he was doing it for the right reasons, out of the kindness from his heart.”

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