ATLANTA — This Friday night, he sneaked in the back entrance. There was no big entourage, announcement or even a cheer from Westlake High School's crowd. He hugged his family who were watching from the sidelines before the high school football game and then turned to the field.
The game against Carrollton got underway,cornerback The hoodie was camouflaged in a camo-colored Nikes with camo pants, a black T-shirt, and green pants. He stood near the scoreboard, watching intently. Avieon, his younger brother was doing exactly the same thing as A.J. Avieon, his younger brother, was doing exactly what A.J. had done many years ago.
It is usually a big deal for an NFL player to return to his high-school. It's usually a time of celebration or acknowledgement. Terrell is not one of them, at least not this day. And that's for a good reason.
A.J. Terrell is always available.
Carl Green, Westlake's athletic director, said that he is a familiar face. “So it's normal for him because everybody treats him like he's not here. It's not star-struck mentality, it's familiarity. It's comfortability. He feels at home in this situation.
For all four Terrell children, Westlake was their home. Avieon is the senior and Avieon the youngest. His family has been close to a decade inseparable from Westlake. His parents have been constants at the events and worked in the concession stands.
Terrell decided to donate his time and money to Westlake because of this. David Mulugheta is Terrell's agent. He advises his clients to get settled and focus on football.
Terrell was different. Terrell was determined from the moment he signed his contract, particularly since he was home in Atlanta, to give back to Westlake.
Terrell stated, “It's all of the years that we went through and just brand and all those people there,”
“It is something that I love to take care.”
The idea that started as an idea is now a relationship between Terrell, his alma maternity and its track and football programs. He has invested both financially and emotionally.
He has bigger ambitions to reach more people in the community he grew into and is recognized on Sundays for being one of the best young cornerbacks in NFL. But it all starts with the high school where his education was.
THAT TERRELL IS CAN He likes to slip in and out easily of Westlake games. He likes it. He doesn't seek attention. The less said the better.
He had a larger than usual personal crowd to support him during the game against Carrollton. Terrell had a security officer accompany him, Mulugheta (and Trey Smith), his agents and Smith's young child. Aliya and Aundell, his parents, were present when Terrell arrived to greet him and give him a hug. The two of them then watched from the stands. Aundell sometimes watches from the stands, but not this October night.
Terrell and the guard are typically on duty every night. One other person. He doesn't like to be praised, but he will take photos if asked.
He'll be there to play as many games as he can, and he will pay attention, not fuss over him.
“I'm locked up. Terrell explained that Terrell was there for a purpose. “I'm there not to be seen and not understand the game.
Terrell informed his business manager Denise Thompson and his agents that Westlake was the place he wanted them to help. Thompson established a donor advised fund for Terrell's family and met with Fulton County Schools as well as Westlake in 2020.
Terrell was presented with a budget by Westlake, along with specific requests for what they wanted to improve or replace. It's updated each year and Terrell helps in any way he can. Thompson reported that Terrell has given between $40,000-$50,000 so far.
His generosity helped to upgrade the weight room of the team with new equipment including treadmills. He paid approximately $200 to replace the school's hurdles. He also built a track and field record board. It is located to the side of the football fields. The board has Terrell Jr. on it in the 4×100 meter relay in 40.72 seconds in 2017, and Avieon's records for the 4×400 and 4×200 meters relays (1:28.11 each set in 2022). Championship rings are also displayed.
Jason Cage, Terrell's track coach said Terrell is his biggest supporter.
Cage said, “He really helped bring this program along.” “You know what, he's the one behind it.”
THE TRACK PROGRAM Terrell received a surprise. Cage was surprised that Terrell would commit his support.
Cage came up with the idea for A.J. Terrell Relays include red-and black batons with Terrell’s name and picture on them. He was presented with his framed track jersey by the team. T-shirts that reflected his likeness were handed out. He signed No. 24 Terrell jerseys.
Cage claimed that they did this “out of his giving spirit, Man.” We were just trying to honor A.J.” Terrell didn’t ask for this but he supported it. It was a track meet for high school athletes, which was part of Terrell's goal to give back.
Terrell stated that it was an honor to be invited to a track meet. “It was definitely huge for me and something that I really wanted ASAP. They offered it to me and I accepted it.
It is in some ways compatible with his bigger plan. He's not doing this for a single purpose or to keep his brother connected to the school. This is more. His first A.J. was held in June. Terrell football camp, for Atlanta children aged 12 and younger.
Terrell wore a bright red shirt with a hat that had “ATL” written on it. He led one of the drill stations. Terrell observed the kids as they worked through the ladder drill, and he said “set…go” before each duo took off.
Terrell brought his family along to help with the camp's management., And . He spaced out the cones for drills, and talked with a camper regarding a 3-point stance. He laughed with another player when he asked him “How fast are your feet?” He responded “How fast?” You?” and then pretending to race him.
Terrell is passionate about teaching football and loves being surrounded by his family. He also enjoys giving back to the community and cities that have meant so much.
In December of last year, he donated $1,000 through the 100 Black Men of America for five families in need to assist them with their holiday needs. Thompson stated that they have plans to do this every year.
Thompson stated that Thompson started at Westlake but is now working with other programs. “He wants Mr. Atlanta when he comes to community.”
He has one wish. Avieon would like to see the No. 8 jersey at Westlake will be retired. He is also renamed in his brother's honor.
Green stated that it is not yet being discussed, but that it is on the table. Many Westlake football alumni have made significant contributions to sports and made it to the NFL. They are now putting together a plan.
Terrell has it in his mind.
Terrell stated, “It would just be a lot.” You talk about a jersey which is not going to be worn again because it was made of excellence, commitment to sacrifice, dedication, devotion to the school and leadership. It's a huge honor.
“It's much more than just the jersey. This jersey is being retired represents all of this.
Terrell won’t be proud of it, however. He didn't ask for it. Thompson refers to Terrell as a quiet giver. It's not something he will talk about, but he won't push it.
He likes to keep it simple in his life, be it his giving, football, or family. This is why he decided to begin his giving with Westlake. Since the age of 8, he'd been attending school football games. It doesn't matter that his family is no longer students at the school, it won't stop him from planning for its future because of the memories it has meant to him.
SMOKING A SMALL CHOCOLATE, Terrell was attentive. Terrell watched intently as Avieon intercepted the pass on the first drive. Terrell smiled, and raised his right hand in the air when his brother returned the ball for touchdown. Terrell was beaming. He said that Terrell had the tools and would be able to tell. Avieon has verbally committed himself to Clemson and is now following his brother's footsteps.
Terrell is a fan, as much as he is a supporter. He was furious that Westlake allowed such big plays. He began to rub his hands together as he awaited Westlake's second offensive drive.
Westlake lost to Westlake in the fourth quarter. Terrell asked the team for a play to keep the game going. It almost happened. Avieon seemed to be intercepting a pass in end zone. Terrell began to celebrate. But, there was a flag against pass interference.
Terrell prepared to leave as the minutes ticked down. He didn't have time to wait for Avieon. They'd talk later. Terrell would also be returning.
On Dec. 10, he'll be participating in a parent-athlete workshop. His dad will also speak about being supportive of his son's sports activities.
It's not a big deal. Terrell and his family are doing it. They have been there for a long time. They are part of the community.
Terrell said, “It placed me in a position for my future.” “It was not only the relationships I had with coaches and ADs, but also my teachers who helped me to become who and what I am today. They were all there to help me get to college, be mature, and take classes and do certain things.
“Just get it moving in that area. It was a great way to get me where I am today.