Michael Bennett takes living aloha to a different level.
The Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl MVP defensive end has spent much of his four years living on Oahu to donating his time and wealth to his new community.
“That comes from my mom and dad growing up in the community and always giving back,” said the Houston native. “My dad was a part of the school board, my mom worked in the district for 20 years, and I just always wanted to give back and always make it free. Growing up, I know I wasn’t able to afford the things like go to to certain camps or do certain things.”
Bennett expect others to do the same. The seven-year NFL veteran took special exception to a camp in Laie hosted by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
Over the Fourth of July weekend, the reigning NBA MVP hosted a four-day camp on the campus of BYU-Hawaii that charged overnight campers $2,250.
“I see a lot of different athletes come through Hawaii whether it’s Steph Curry or whoever it is,” Bennett quipped. “They all come here and it makes me mad, because I live in this community and I understand this community — that there’s so many kids who can’t afford to pay such a high amount of money. In my mind it’s like, how much money do you need before you start giving back for free? And I think a lot of athletes should start focusing on that.”
Bennett, who will host his fourth-annual free camp on Oahu this weekend, had more strong criticism of Curry.
“If you do have a camp and you charge money for it, you need to make sure that money that you take from this community, you give back to the kids that are paying for the camp. These are the kids that live here. When you leave Hawaii and you go back to wherever you’re at, or you come here and you go back from this vacation you leave with a piece of paradise, but these people still live here every day.”
The Pro Bowler feels a strong connection with Hawaii. Bennett first moved to the 50th state after marrying his wife Pele, who is from Oahu’s North Shore.
“I just feel like when I got here I really felt at home, more than any place I’ve ever been,” Bennett said with a smile. “For a place to give you peace of mind and peace, it’s one of the things that you can’t really buy and you have to really feel it. It has to be genuine so I genuinely feel love for this place and I genuinely just want to give back to it in a way that nobody’s ever seen.”
Bennett will continue to do that this Saturday by hosting the 4th Annual Michael Bennett Football Camp. The camp will focus on player development with instruction from Bennett, Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o, Falcons linebacker O’Brien Schofield, and other NFL players.
The camp will be held at Clarence T.C. Ching Field at the University of Hawaii from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Pre-camp registration is full, but on-site registration is still available.