Najee Harris has a new home after the California native and Alabama alum was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in April.
If all works out, Harris will be in Pittsburgh for the next five years at the least, more than enough time to put down some roots in a new city.
That’s a topic that’s near and dear to Harris, who dealt with homelessness in his youth, but is looking forward to the chance to get to know another new city after spending his last few years in Tuscaloosa.
“They picked me up and went through the tunnel, and they told me to look out the window and I saw Heinz Field and where the Pirates’ field is at too,” Harris said on his first day in the city. “It was dope. It was actually really nice. I’ve never been here before ever in my life, so to see a new scene is always nice.”
The idea of being a young professional on their own in a new city can be intimidating to some, but for Harris, he said his background made his grow up quickly and helped prepare him for the challenge of being far from home
“I’ve had to overcome a lot of things when I was young,” Harris said. “At the same time, I had to grow up fast too. So me living far from home isn’t really an issue. I did get homesick, I can’t lie. It’s just part of growing up and you’re experiencing new things, and you’re stepping into a more mature part of your life. That’s what I did at Alabama. I knew that if I wanted to make it to the next level, there’s a chance I’m not going to be playing back home, so I may as well just get used to traveling different places and get out of my comfort zone. I went to Alabama, spent four years there. It was a different environment, different group of people, especially coming from the west coast. Everything was a completely different culture change.
“So really coming to Pittsburgh, it’s not something I haven’t been through in a way because, like I said, I’ve been from California all the way to Alabama and now I’m in Pittsburgh. The only thing that’s different is the time zone.”
Harris has already found time to give back to the Pittsburgh community, continuing the work he’s done in his hometown of Oakland, including throwing a party at the very homeless shelter he once stayed in on his draft day.
“That was important,” Harris said. “Us as a family, we went through a lot of stuff. That was actually one of the places I stayed at, in the homeless shelter. I just want to make sure they know that if they need a helping hand I’m always here.”