When Doran Grant was only 8 years old he had begun his path to the NFL. Without realizing it, Doran had begun a work ethic thru athletics and academics that gave him a springboard into the elite. As a 7th grader, Doran participated on the Akron based youth summer track team Unified-N-Flight, where he first teamed up with Devin Smith. They were members of the 4 x100 meter relay team together (Christian Bryant OSU/St. Louis Rams also ran on this relay) and several individual events. They would spend two years together running summer track, developing a friendship in the process.
The two carried their friendship into high school where Devin attended Massillon High School and Doran attended Akron St. Vincent St. Mary High School. During the summer of their sophomore year, Devin stumbled upon some shocking news while cleaning up his grandmother’s house, he found an old family reunion program and while reading it he discovered that his dad and Doran’s dad were second cousins!
That day their lifelong friendship was solidified! Both were high school standouts as football and track stars. Devin was an exceptional basketball player, high jumper, and wide receiver. Doran also excelled in the 110 meter hurdles, a cornerback and wide receiver. In fact, as Junior’s in high school Devin took the State title for the high jump and the 110 meter dash. Doran won gold for the 110 meter hurdles. It is during this time, Doran realized the opportunity that he and Devin had to be successful in scholastics. Realizing that there was so much talent in Akron and most of these students didn’t know how to expose themselves to the paths needed to gain the scholarships available throughout the Country. The first thought of AVO, was spawned.
Along with Doran’s best friend, Darion Ferrell, the first ideas of a youth development organization was brought into existence. Just a year later, Doran had become an All American football cornerback, and was also invited to the Big 33, Ohio vs. Pennsylvania, high school All-star game. As no surprise, Devin was also invited to the Annual Game. Doran and Devin were teammates again. The two teammates found themselves with yet another opportunity to play together as they both were offered football scholarships to the The Ohio State University. Both accepted their scholarships to Ohio State and became Buckeyes!
During their sophomore year, Doran and Devin had taken residence together and this is where Doran first introduced Devin to the idea of AVO. Devin was "all in" on the idea. The rest of their college careers are well known. Devin would go on to become one of the best wide receivers in Ohio State history. Devin has arguably the greatest winning statistic in NCAA history. The Ohio State Buckeyes were 24-0 in games where Devin caught at least one touchdown a game during his four year tenure. Doran was elected a team Captain and All-Big Ten cornerback his senior year. They were both vital parts of the 2015 National Championship victory for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Just a few months after winning the first College Football Playoff Championship game, Doran and Devin entered their names into the NFL draft. The path that had started so long ago lead the childhood friends/cousins to be drafted into the league with Doran being selected in the 4th round by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Devin in the second round to the New York Jets. Shortly after being drafted, along with Darion Ferrell, the three founded Akron’s Very Own Youth organization. AVO, an idea, had been born into reality! Now, thru AVO, local youth and their families will receive the guidance and support needed to create their own paths of academic and athletic success! With the help of two lifelong friends/cousins, their families and concerned community members who have committed to serving the youth of Akron Ohio!!
AVO’s Mission Statement
Akron’s Very Own Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that will motivate and inspire the youth of Akron to pursue higher education through academics, athletics, music and the arts.
We believe that every child has a gift. We will provide guidance, instruction and support by partnering with other Akron based community organizations.
Together we will implement various programs and events that will empower our youth to create a path to live healthy successful lives.