Jeremy Maclin never had the means to lavish his mothers with extravagant gifts on Mother's Day. But he said that he always made a point to mark the holiday and to thank his birth mother and the surrogate mother that took him in as a youth for their love and support.
Now a handsomely-paid NFL wide receiver Maclin can buy his mothers almost anything they want. But he is also using his celebrity to honor other mothers and to reward their sons as part of his foundation.
Maclin hosted the first annual Maclin's Mother's Day Miracles at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday in which five boys presented their mothers with gifts and honor pledges. The boys -- all 12 years or older and raised by single mothers -- were chosen because they excelled in school and were involved in their communities.
The event began when the boys surprised their mothers with flower bouquets. The mothers also received a day at the Bellevue spa, $200 worth of dinner gift certificates, collages designed by their sons and pledges. Maclin also told the mothers and sons that they would receive tickets to an Eagles game this coming season.
One of the boys read the pledge and Maclin encouraged (forced?) each one to stand up at the front of the room and tell his mother why he thought she was special.
Badia Gilmore, mother of 12-year-old Nasir, said that she especially appreciated her son's pledge to try to be his best and to respect her.
"It means a lot. He's my oldest child," Gilmore said. "He's doing good in school. He's been on the honor roll all year long. I just love him dearly."
The Gilmores -- Mychael, 11, and Summer, 6, also attended the event -- reside in West Deptford, N.J. Badia works multiple jobs to support her family. The Gilmores' father has never been in the picture.
Maclin never had a relationship with his real father. He has spoken about his mother, Cleo Maclin King, and her struggles with drinking before. When he was nine, he met Jeff and Cindy Parres. Jeff Parres coached his pee-wee football team. Over time, Maclin spent more and more time at the Parres home and eventually moved in.
At some point, the Parres family helped Maclin patch up his relationship with his real mother.
"Obviously, I never had money growing up. But I knew how much this day meant because I saw the struggles that my real Mom had growing up," Maclin said. "I saw it, I witnessed it, I lived it. I always tried to do a little something, whether it was something I made in school or something I was able to grab with a few bucks."
Maclin's foundation has grown in two and half years. The Eagles wide receiver has run camps since its inception, but has added events like the Mother's Day Miracles in recent years.
"One of things I had to do as a child was kind of mature fast," Maclin said. "I feel like I've been an adult for a long time now. It helps knowing that I understand what it's all about. ... A lot of people do it because they feel like they have to. I do it because I genuinely want to."