Death of Falcons’ Jeff Okudah’s mother inspired his ‘My Cause My Cleats’ shoe

 Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah (1) grabs a pass during a minicamp on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in Flowery Branch, Ga.
 Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah (1) grabs a pass during a minicamp on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, in Flowery Branch, Ga. Miguel Martinez /

FLOWERY BRANCH — During Falcons cornerback Jeff Okudah’s first week at Ohio State in 2017, his mother, Marie, died from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

For this week’s “My Cause My Cleats” initiative by the NFL, Okudah will wear cleats honoring the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society when the Falcons (5-6) play the New York Jets (4-7) at 1 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

“I just wanted to do something to honor my mom,” Okudah told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “She passed away (from) Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in 2017. So, I wanted to wear a cleat that would honor her cause. She would be proud of the organization and what they set out to accomplish. Just wanted to put them in the spotlight.”

Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell, who is from Atlanta and played at Westlake High, is supporting the Atlanta Mission on his cleats.

“For me, being from Atlanta, I see the community and you see a lot of homeless people out in the city,” Terrell said. “I just hooked up with the Atlanta Mission because they help people who need shelter and provide a lot of help (for the community). Some people don’t have a roof over their head or have meals from day to day, I just support what they offer to everybody in the city of Atlanta.”

Falcons wide receiver Drake London will support the Special Olympics.

“I just remember one of my childhood best friends, Michael Daly,” London said. “He moved away in the eighth grade, but he had a little brother named Mason, who was a special needs (child). I’m pretty sure that he had Down Syndrome.

“It was just always cool to see him and how they treated him as a regular person. It was really inspiring for me to grow up in that environment. ... They loved him and I loved Mason, too. That’s why I picked the Special Olympics.”

Falcons safety Richie Grant likes working with the disadvantaged youth in the city. He will support At-Promise West Boys & Girls Club.

“They are right by the stadium,” Grant said. “I went out there earlier this year. I wanted to hang out with the kids. It was nice.”

Grant wants to bring awareness to youth.

“It’s a nice cause for the kids, who probably don’t have a guardian at home or their mom or dad are dealing with some things so they might be with the grandmom or something like that. They have this after school program for them to hang out and get them out the streets, get them out of their world for a little bit.”

Grant has spent time at the program.

“Hanging out with the kids, it inspired me,” Grant said. “I love bringing awareness to the youth. I feel like I was in the same position in some similar why when I was coming up. It just feels good to give back.”

Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson supports "pregnancy & infant awareness" as NFL players reveal their passions beyond the game and wear their hearts on their feet through My Cause My Cleats as he prepares to take on the Buccaneers in a NFL football game on Sunday, Dec 5, 2021, in Atlanta.   “Curtis Compton /”`

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

In total, 43 Falcons players and coaches selected causes to represent:

Player-Coach / Cause-Organization

Micah Abernathy/Ralph David Abernathy III Foundation

Tyler Allgeier/The White Ribbon Project

Jessie Bates III/JB3 Fund

Matthew Bergeron/Football Québec

Natrone Brooks/Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Calais Campbell/The Elephant in the Room

Lorenzo Carter/United Way

Frank Darby/Autism Speaks

Bud Dupree/First 48 Charity

Kaden Elliss/Georgia Kids Belong

John FitzPatrick/American Brain Tumor Association

Tre Flowers/The Giving Flowers Foundation

Joe Gaziano/Jimmy Fund

Richie Grant/At-Promise West Boys & Girls Club

Demone Harris/Center for Black Women’s Wellness

Taylor Heinicke/The Mighty Millie Foundation

Kyle Hinton/Adopt A Classroom

Sarah Hogan/The Coach Knapp Memorial Fund

Mack Hollins/Thumbs Up Mission

Timmy Horne/Play Like a Girl

Grady Jarrett/Grady Gives

Nate Landman/Responder Rescue

Chris Lindstrom/Best Buddies

Drake London/Special Olympics

Liam McCullough/Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Kaleb McGary/The Strong Side Foundation

Scotty Miller/Cerebral Palsy Foundation

Storm Norton/Alzheimer’s Association

Jeff Okudah/The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Cordarrelle Patterson/Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Bradley Pinion/Compassion International

Kyle Pitts/Boys & Girls Club

Desmond Ridder/Mal Mal’s Pals

Bijan Robinson/Bijan Robinson Foundation

Matt Schaub/The Coach Knapp Memorial Fund

Keith Smith/Smith Effect Foundation

Andre Smith Jr./Black Women’s Health Imperative

Jonnu Smith/The Nu Family Foundation

A.J. Terrell Jr./Atlanta Mission

Carlos Washington Jr./American Society for Deaf Children

Barry Wesley/Covenant House Georgia

Logan Woodside/Skin Cancer Foundation

T.J. Yates/The Coach Knapp Memorial Fund

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