'I apologize for laughing at you, and I want to give something to you to make it up,' one of the boys told the teen.
High school is tough enough for most people. Young teens often lack compassion and an understanding of their fellow classmates. For one freshman at Martin Luther King College Prep in Memphis, the first three weeks were a nightmare. Michael Todd said he was often the butt of many jokes because of the same clothes he wore to school every day since he couldn't afford new ones. "I've been bullied my entire life. I really don't have clothes at home," he told FOX13 in 2019. "My mom can't buy clothes for me because I'm growing too fast."
That's when two of the high school's football players decided to step in. Kristopher Graham and Antwan Garrett reached into their own closets to help Todd get a new wardrobe. Graham said, "When I saw people laugh and bully him, I felt like I needed to do something." "I got some brand-new shoes I can give him and a few items," Garrett added.
On one Monday morning, Todd froze when he got the gifts, including shorts, shirts and shoes among other items from his classmates. He told his fellow students, "You guys are awesome."
Netizens were also touched by the gesture. u/Charger525 commented on the viral Reddit video, "Those boys' parents should be commended. It’s not often you see things like this and I can’t imagine they have a lot of money at their age. It looks like a lot of heart went into this." u/SoVerySleepy81 added, "He almost looked like he was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like okay these guys are pretending to be nice to me, when is the bad stuff going to start. Poor kid. Also the kids that are giving him stuff are great kids."
“It was a weak moment for me. I was going to cry,” Garrett said about giving Todd the items. “He wasn’t smiling or anything, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I think this is going to make him smile.' I told him—we were in the same third period—I said, ‘I apologize for laughing at you, and I want to give something to you to make it up.’”
The boys' story eventually caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who welcomed the trio onto her show. Not only were the boys shocked by the appearance of celebrity guest Will Smith but he also surprised them with $10,000 each! "We weren't expecting the video to go viral. We just wanted to make a change," Garrett said after appearing on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," per Commercial Appeal.
The young teens had to grow up fast based on their own experiences knowing how small acts of kindness can have a ripple effect. Their own struggles had helped them see the bigger picture and had given them perspective on what Todd was going through. "I know how it feels not to have nothin'. I don't have much, but it made me feel better by seeing somebody else have. I haven't had like the best of life. Everybody struggles." Graham added, "What inspired me to help him, was not even years ago, but a couple of months ago I didn't have it either. Being in a hotel for six months just because you didn't have a house is tough... I used to go school with busted up shoes and stuff. My life had changed and I wanted his life to change, too."