Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Cristina Cruz - Christopher Columbus HS
MIAMI | Christopher “CJ” Henderson of the Jacksonville Jaguars football team has committed $250,000 toward renovating the athletic center of his alma mater, Christopher Columbus High School.
Renovations for the renamed Henderson Family Athletic Training Center will include whirlpools, massage chairs and training tables for a variety of therapies.
Work on the 2,000-square-foot sports center will cost approximately $500,000, with the other $250,000 to be raised mainly through alumni and parent donations. It’s expected to be finished this coming August.
“This gift is a way for me to give back to the school who helped me so much,” Henderson, 22, said in a video announcing the donation. “It feels good to know that I will play a part in helping future student-athletes at Columbus.”
Asked during the video how he felt about having the training center named for his family, Henderson said it was “a surreal feeling. I'm just blessed and thankful that they're allowing me to do it.”
Approximately 1,000 athletes visit Columbus’ training facility each year. One of them is another Columbus alumnus, CJ’s younger brother Xzavier, currently a wide receiver for the University of Florida.
“My brother and I will never forget our experiences at Columbus,” CJ said. “The faculty and coaching staff really go above and beyond to help their students succeed.”
After Columbus High, Henderson went on to football at UF, then was selected by the Jaguars in 2020 as the No. 9 NFL overall draft pick. The action made him the second-highest drafted defensive back in franchise history.
In his debut year with the Jaguars, he took part not only on the field but in the team’s community service work, delivering gifts to needy families through the Rescue Christmas Campaign this past December. Henderson also worked to obtain a $2,500 NFL Draft High School Football Grant for the Columbus football team.
The community work drew praise from Marist Brother Herb Baker, head athletic trainer for Columbus, who worked with CJ during his time at the school. “As a Marist school, we encourage our young men to not only be good students but also good Christians and good citizens ... to use their gifts and talents to make a difference in our world.”