Delaylah laid in her bed at TMC for Children, playing Minecraft on her television, with her mom by her side when she noticed a person come through the door bearing gifts that went beyond the autographed photos and Arizona football memorabilia.
The gift of brightening a kid’s day — a child with an illness that required hospitalization — was invaluable.
Delaylah’s facemask covered her smile but her eyes were gleaming toward Stanley Berryhill III, who offered a warm laugh when she said, “Hi, nice to meet you. Thank you.”
“No problem, nice to meet you. Glad to be here,” Berryhill responded before noticing the Minecraft game on the TV set mounted on the wall. “Wow, you put together a whole town? I’ve never seen that.”
Delaylah mentioned that her sister, who plays football, has helped her with the Minecraft game when she is not tackling her for fun.
“You have to tackle her back,” Berryhill said with a laugh.
This kind of banter has not occurred with a local influential person visiting a child at TMC for Children for more than two years, since COVID-19 hit in March 2020.
The importance of such a visit was seen on the face of Sophia, who was in an adjacent room from Delaylah. When Berryhill walked into Sophia’s room, her jaw dropped and she and her mother were all smiles throughout the brief encounter.
Life’s uncertainties that have caused anxious moments — the ailments of the children and the pandemic preventing meetings such as this — were overcome on this day by the excitement and joy of Berryhill’s presence.
“It’s uplifting. It lifts spirits,” said Jamie Antrim, Child Life Assistant at TMC Healthcare. “That’s important for healing. It kind of injects a little bit of happiness into the experience.”
Berryhill’s one-hour visit at TMC for Children on Thursday was a much-needed break for him as well from his workouts and preparation for the Atlanta Falcons’ training camp in two weeks.
The former Mountain View High School and Arizona wide receiver, who was raised in Tucson, was signed to an undrafted free agent deal by the Falcons in late April after the NFL draft. He participated in voluntary organized team activies (OTAs) with Atlanta for almost two weeks last month.
“Just as much as it brightened their day, I think it brightened mine too,” Berryhill said of his tour of TMC for Children. “Being able to give back to the community — I’ve done this in the past with the U of A but I haven’t been able to do something like this in a long time — I was excited to get back out here.”
Berryhill took note of the children’s reactions of him entering their rooms wearing an Atlanta Falcons baseball jersey and cap with autographed photos, footballs and Falcons caps, Arizona football stickers and towels, etc., and said “it was great.”
“You couldn’t really see (because of the facemask) but I had a smile just as big as theirs when I passed them stuff,” he said. “I’m glad I can make that kind of impact on some lives today and make people’s days better.”
One of the children asked about Berryhill’s experience with the Falcons to this point, and he responded by telling the child that it’s a fun challenge.
“We have to learn 11 pages in the playbook in less than week at a time,” Berryhill told the kid. “It’s a lot of work but I like it.”
Berryhill has grown accustomed to assignments and plans to give them down the road after his NFL career. He earned his education degree at Arizona. He told Delaylah that he wants to become an elementary school teacher.
“I love being around kids and working with them,” Berryhill said to Delaylah’s mom, a teacher.
Berryhill comes from a large family of nine kids — his father is Cholla High School football and track great Stanley Berryhill Jr. — so he knows what it’s like to be a guiding force for his younger siblings.
Two of them — Savaughn and Shamar — are aspiring wide receivers at Sabino High School. Savaughn is a Class of 2024 standout who caught 25 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns last season. Shamar played mostly as a defensive back as a freshman last year, totaling 15 tackles.
Arizona offered Shamar a scholarship last month after he took part in a 7-on-7 event at Arizona Stadium. Savaughn has taken unofficial recruiting visits to Arizona’s facilities and is bound to be a high-level recruit by the end of his senior year next season as a primary target of fellow Class of 2024 prospect Cameron Hackworth.
Stanley III has helped instill Savaughn and Shamar the work ethic it takes to succeed. He walked on to Arizona’s program in 2017 and was awarded a scholarship during fall camp in 2018. He completed his Wildcat career with 139 receptions for 1,477 yards and 21 touchdowns and was Jedd Fisch’s leading receiver last season.
“Everything I learn I try to pass down to them (Savaughn and Shamar), whether it’s how to learn a new playbook, how to learn certain routes, how to move, how to deceive defenders so you can get open,” Stanley III said. “Whatever I learn, I try to pass little nuggets here and there whenever I’m in town. When I call them before their games, I try to give them something to focus on so they can perform better and hopefully blow up and get some offers.”
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Touring TMC for Children with Stanley III was former Arizona football player Derek Hall, who played for Dick Tomey from 1996-99. Hall is a managing partner of the Las Vegas-based HD Sports Agency along with another former Wildcat, Tom Edwards, who is Stanley III’s agent.
Edwards, an NFL Players Association certified player agent who specializes in NFL prospect and player contract negotiations, is a Sahuaro High School graduate who earned his degree in finance while playing with the Wildcats from 1998-2001 as a defensive end.
He went on to earn his law degree from the Arizona’s College of Law and is part of the Holley Driggs Law Firm in Las Vegas.
Hall, also a certfied agent, and Edwards developed HD Sports last year.
“Stanley wants to give back to the community. He’s from here. It’s important for him,” Hall said of Stanley III’s visit of TMC for Children. “It’s not only important for him to make the leap to be successful but it’s also important for him to give back.
“If I call him for interview requests, radio requests, in-person requests, anything like that, he’s always receptive. That’s kind of the thing that we educate and discuss with these guys along the process, before we sign them. Once we sign them, it continues. It’s like, ‘If you come with us, this is how it’s going to be.'”
The other clients for Edwards and Hall are another former Arizona receiver, Shawn Poindexter, who just completed his first season with the USFL’s New Orleans Breakers after being on the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad; former Castleton State (Vt.) defensive end Chris Rice, who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans; and former USC linebacker Kana’i Mauga, who is an undrafted free agent with the Denver Broncos.
Mauga’s position coach with the Broncos is former Arizona player Peter Hansen, who previously coached at Stanford and UNLV and has a close friendship with Hall.
Hall and Edwards also have enlisted physicians for HD Sports — Dr. Erik Dean and Dr. Amit Sahasrabudhe of Scottsdale’s AZ Sports Medicine — to conduct physical and psychological tests on prospective clients. Dean played for Tomey at Arizona from 1991-95. Sahasrabudhe was educated at Penn State.
Another person with Arizona ties — Brad Arnett, the Wildcats’ lead strength and conditioning trainer from 2000-05 who now runs a training business near Milwaukee — serves as a nutrition and strength training consultant with HD Sports’ clients.
“What we all like about Stanley is that he is accountable,” Hall said. “We all hold each other accountable. No person is bigger than the other person in our organization. We’re all the same. We’re all working for the same goal — that’s for our athletes to be successful.
“We try to provide them every opportunity possible to be successful. At the end of the day, we essentially work for Stanley. We couldn’t be more proud to do that. We couldn’t be more proud of him.”
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District.