Detroit — When Ameer Abdullah was a high school sophomore, he heard a phrase that’s stuck with him.
Abdullah heard about the “man box,” sort of a man group that a guy might be comfortable with laughing and joking.
But Abdullah told a group of high school males this week, it’s sometimes necessary to step outside of that man box — especially when there’s negative talk about women.
“It’s hard sometimes because you want to be liked by everyone,” Abdullah said. “You want to be with the cool guys on the team. You don’t want to be the stickler.
“But you have to take that moment and take into consideration to step outside the man box because that’s just a small step toward domestic violence.”
Abdullah and several Lions teammates took part in a dinner honoring approximately 200 Oakland County high school students who took part in the first HAVEN Redefine program, which educated young males about domestic violence in the community.
HAVEN provides shelter, counseling, and education for victims of domestic violence.
The Lions contributed a $250,000 grant to fund the Redefine program, which included students from Berkley, Harbor, Milford, Novi, Oakland Opportunity Academy and White Lake Lakeland schools.
The Redefine program educates young males about domestic violence through leadership seminars and classes.
Young males can earn and learn leadership qualities, said Abdullah, in those situations where they must step outside of the “man box.
“When they look back and they reflect on that moment, they’ll (friends) look at you as a leader in that time,” Abdullah said. “They’ll understand that what you were trying to do in that moment or stand for was greater than whatever that guy was talking about or what the discussion was about.
“So the man box is something that a lot of kids struggle with, I struggled with it at a young age. When you’re in those kinds of situations, say ‘Is this a man-box situation where I can step out and be greater than what the man box really is.”
Lions players took part in a panel discussion and talked about their personal experiences growing up, and the mentors who helped them along the way.
“Hearing these things from our mouths, and the experiences we’ve been through and the situations, it’s kind of reassuring that they’re (Lions players) are kind of like us (the kids),” Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew said. “It’s good for them to hear that.”
Said defensive tackle Haloti Ngata: “You want to help these younger kids, be a mentor, just do something to help them realize things. Sometimes kids won’t listen to their own parents. Being able to say something that could help them, it could change a kid’s life.”