Bay Area football star who overcame homelessness picked in 1st round of NFL Draft

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Thursday's NFL Draft didn't just prove to make for a great night, but an "amazing" night according to Bay Area's Najee Harris. The star football player was a running back for Alabama and was 24th pick overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The former Antioch High School standout celebrated after the call came and after he heard these words from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, "The Pittsburgh Steelers select Najee Harris."

ABC7 News was there as Najee was surrounded by family and friends in Emeryville. In fact at one point it was so busy that he took the call he got from the Steelers outside. As Harris walked by our crew we heard him say, "appreciate everything coach."

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What many don't realize is that Harris grew up in numerous places. Antioch, Oakland, and in 2010 when he was just 12 years old he spent time living in a Richmond shelter.

"It's all in God's plan, you know my roots will always be in the Bay Area but you know obviously," said Harris.

A humble Harris was interrupted by champagne showers during our interview. Friends and family keeping the celebration going.

Earlier in the day Najee spoke about the challenges that many kids face growing up, ones that he was able to overcome.

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"Just all the little kids out there going through the same stuff, I want to tell them that there are people in your same position and there is light at the end of the tunnel," said Harris.

We asked the future Pittsburgh Steeler if he was nervous as the clock kept on ticking without a call.

"I was getting hella nervous. Anytime you see that, and the trade-ups happening, the other teams picking other players you know, and then running backs not getting picked in the first round. Kind of scary, but like I said finally happened at the end of the day, it all worked out how it was planned," said Harris.

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Najee isn't wasting time either. He's headed to Pittsburgh on Friday. When we spoke with him he said he wanted to give one message to kids out there who might be watching,

"Don't go where the path may lead but go where there is no path. Sometimes it's good to just follow your own footsteps, make your own way, have your own dream, I can say that I did that myself."
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