Athletes give back to Miami community for Christmas

(WSVN) - Local sports heroes from the Miami Dolphins and Miami Heat were in the spirit of the holidays, Monday, when they gave back to their local communities.

Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh took a break from dishing out punishment to opposing quarterbacks to team up with Pay Away With the Layaway and surprise families at a Burlington Coat Factory.

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Suh paid off the in-store debts owed by several families at the Lauderdale Lakes store.

“I mean, it’s great to just be able to spread joy, and to be able to give somebody else a helping hand, is something that’s always great,” Suh said.

He remembered his own childhood, when his family often needed help. Now, he’s happy to be in a position to help.

“I grew up in a community understanding I didn’t get to wear I am without anybody else’s help,” Suh said. “So being able to give somebody else some help, and to enjoy their particular weekend and the holidays coming up, is always nice.”

As Suh helped families in Lauderdale Lakes, the Miami Heat surprised children in hospitals throughout South Florida.

Players and coaches visited Baptist Children’s Hospital and Holtz Children’s Hospital to pass out toys and gifts they collected during a recent toy drive.

Miami native Udonis Haslem said he always enjoys giving back.

“This is something that for me is like a gift to myself,” Haslem said. “It’s way more than money or anything physical; it’s the gift of giving and bringing joy and smiles to these kids and families.”

Eclise Sena, whose child was visited by the Heat players, said it’s important that the children know people outside of their family care.

“When you see the community comes together like this, it’s very encouraging, and we’re very hopeful that the children have some other people other than close family that are thinking of them at this time, especially around Christmastime,” Sena said.

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