Steelers’ Heyward gives boys access to formal wear

PITTSBURGH – Craig Heyward came to the University of Pittsburgh in 1984, wanting to play football for the Panthers.

But players had to wear formal clothes on game day, and “Ironhead,” who came from a single-parent family with multiple siblings, didn’t have much.

“He came to Pitt with exactly one suit named after him,” said his son, Cam Heyward, a Steelers defensive lineman. “He was changing shirts, ties and belts to change the look of this suit.”

In an effort to help solve this problem for many teenagers and young men who face the same problem today, young Heyward and his mother, Charlotte, celebrated the opening of Craig’s Closet at Obama 6- 12 in East Liberty.

Craig’s Closet gives high school students free access to new and gently used clothing for interviews, internships, banquets and special occasions. Closet locations will open in all 10 high schools across the city by 2023.

“We want to raise the level of confidence and self-esteem in the students, and like my dad always told me, ‘You look good, you play good,'” Heyward said of his late father. “So hopefully they can do it too.”

Obama’s closet, in a small room on the first floor of the school, has already been stocked with dozens of suit jackets, dress shirts, pants and shoes, ties and sweaters that have been cleaned and ready to be taken away.

“Through Craig’s Closet, our male high school students will have access to free formal wear for interviews, internships, banquets and more so they feel confident stepping into spaces they most definitely belong in,” said Superintendent Wayne Walters. “Never ‘I have nothing to wear’ will stop them from pursuing their passions and interests.”

Raymar Coleman, an Obama senior, said it was “very special” that he could get dress clothes through his school when he needed it.

“You’ll have more confidence if you know you’re at least looking tight,” Raymar said.

Charlotte Heyward noted that women can access formal wear through organizations such as Dress for Success Pittsburgh, but there was nothing similar for men in the area.

“There was no room for men to dress up,” Charlotte Heyward said. “It’s something that costs so much that it can really set a family back, buying a costume for a major event.”

The opening of Craig’s Closet, an initiative of Heyward House and Sport Clips, was part of “Cam’s Week of Kindness”.

Earlier Tuesday, Heyward read a book to children in McKeesport Presbyterian Church’s Head Start program. Other events were scheduled later in the week.

Heyward said he’s proud to continue his father’s legacy by giving back in a meaningful way.

“Many young people in our community face the same fate as my father,” Heyward said. “I want them to know they are seen, heard, and with this program we are here to support them as they move forward with their future goals.”


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