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(Pittsburgh,Pa) During his 4 years at the University of Pittsburgh, Defensive End Aaron Donald made a tremendous impact on the football field as he became the nation’s top defense lineman. Now as a member of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, Pitt is benefitting from Donald’s impact off the field and they honored him by renaming the ground floor of Pitt’s Duratz Athletic Complex practice facility in the former Pitt All-American’s name.
Pitt held a special Wednesday ceremony introducing the new Aaron Donald Football Performance Center.
“I love Pittsburgh. This is a great university. This is where I’m comfortable at. This is home.” Said Donald “Hard Work Pays Off.”
With his family, former assistant coaches and alumni in attendance, Donald was recognized for his many contributions, which included his annual kids Football Camp (held at the Panthers Practice Facility) and his generous seven-figure financial commitment to the Pitt Football Championship Fund, which serves the program in such key areas as facility improvement, recruiting, technology and student-athlete development.
At 27 years of age, Donald is the youngest seven-figure donor in the history of the University of Pittsburgh. It also marks the largest donation ever by a Pitt football letterman to the program.
“When you think about the word ‘aspire,’ it’s really about the individual effort you’ve put in,” Pitt Athletic Director Heather Lyke said. “There’s no question it’s about hard work, but you’ve given our student-athletes, our young kids an opportunity to aspire to be like you.”
With the assistance of his daughter, Donald pulled back a huge curtain unveiling the front of the remodeled facility which included a plaque with Donald’s name and accomplishments, and 2 of the universities football’s Trophies. The back of the facility (which leads out to the practice fields of the Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers) has Donald’s name in Blue Black Letters above the doors.
“This is the school I watched on TV as a kid and I dreamed about playing for. For it to be here in my hometown at a university I grew up cheering for and wanting to play for, for it to come full circle like it did, you can’t write that story better than that.”
Pitt Football Head Coach Pat Narduzzi was the Master of Ceremonies during the dedication and had this to say about Donald “Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to coach this guy, but he’s a Panther forever.” Narduzzi also joked by saying “I don’t know what we’re going to do this offseason because I don’t think he’s holding out.”
“We talk about Pitt for life, and you kind of embody that.”-Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said of Donald.
Donald hopes his name on the facility will impact present and future Pitt Panthers.
“When it’s all said and done, when I’m no longer around and no longer doing anything, you’re leaving a legacy behind that’s going to be there forever,” Said Donald. “There’s going to be one day, 15 or 20 years down the road, when they’re going to see that name and be like ‘Who’s that?’ and see the history of it. That’s the thing that makes you proud.”
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