Steve Owens, the 1969 Heisman Trophy winner and touted as Miami's chosen son, choked back tears Thursday as he talked about the devastation Miami suffered in the recent flood.
The Miami High School graduate turned all-pro football player returned to Miami to deliver a $10,000 contribution to the new Ottawa County Flood Relief Fund.
Owens and his wife toured Miami prior to an informal check presentation held at Miami City Hall. They revisited the places where they played as children and young adults.
“I went back to the places where I played football, played baseball the old Mud Hut - where I met her, Owens said as he smiled and pointed to his wife. “It was touching for us to go back.
However, as Owens considered the impact on the people who have been affected by Miami's second-greatest flood of record, his voice began to crack with emotion.
“We knew that we had to do something for Miami, Owens said. “As the flood was occurring, people sent me e-mails, sent pictures, updated me with phone calls. We watched the news, read the papers could not believe what we were seeing.
As floodwaters began to push area residents from their homes, Owens made a call to Miami Mayor Brent Brassfield.
“What can we do, he asked. “How can we help?
Brassfield relayed the immediate need for assistance for people who were “falling through the cracks.
Owens decided to make a donation to the Ottawa County Flood Relief Fund, expressing his desire to see the money serve the immediate needs of those who need it the most.
“Even though we now live in Norman, Miami is our home, Owens said. “We will always be a part of Miami and Miami will always be part of u s.
As Owens presented the check, he encouraged local residents to pledge their support to the cause and join him in building the flood relief fund.
“Keep the faith, Miami, Owens said. “Be positive keep helping each other and keep loving each other - that is the important thing.
Brassfield, a lifelong Miami resident, expressed his appreciation of Owens' donation, admitting that he was “a nervous wreck as he stood near a man he had idolized since childhood.
“This man is my childhood hero, Brassfield said. “But, I am more proud of who he is as a person than how he carried the ball.
Brassfield called Owens the “epitome of the spirit of this community and “the best ambassador Miami has ever had.
“It was that spirit that has helped so many people through this flood, Brassfield said.