MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. (WIAT) — Antonio Hurth sat with rapt attention as former Alabama and NFL player Ramzee Robinson shared a message of hope and encouragement to recent parolees like himself.
On top of being the director of player engagement for the Kansas City Chiefs, Robinson is a board member for Alabama Appleseed, a non-profit focused on helping the recently incarcerated find new life after being locked up. On Thursday, he spoke with former inmates at Canterbury United Methodist Church who are clients of the organization.
Hurth, who has been out of prison for two years after serving 27 years for forgery, resonated with Robinson’s inspirational message.
“It lets me know that I’m not the only one that feels the way I feel,” Hurth said. “It lets me know that as a young man, he never gave up. Even with the struggles he went through in life, he never gave up.”
For Robinson, the topic of criminal justice reform and life after incarceration hits close to home, as his cousin Terry Childress was murdered while incarcerated. The loss motivated him to make a difference in the lives of those in and out of the criminal justice system.
Robinson’s work with the nonprofit caught the attention of the NFL and prompted a game-changing partnership, according to Carla Crowder, executive director of Alabama Appleseed.
“We honestly wouldn’t be able to do this work, representing condemned men who are locked up in prison, were it not for the NFL’s support,” Crowder said.
In April, the NFL donated $300 million dollars to local organizations around the nation, with Alabama Appleseed being one of the organizations on the receiving end of that generous gift.
For Robinson, Thursday’s opportunity to spend time with a group of men looking to build a life beyond prison walls was an inspiration.
”I’m very encouraged by what they are doing and also ambitious about seeing what we can do to encourage others and help others and get support for others who are affected by the prison system. It’s inspiring today,” Robinson said.
The NFL has supported Alabama Appleseed since 2020. Much of that support has helped Alabama Appleseed get those incarcerated due to Alabama’s three strikes law, like Hurth, released.