By Michael Wetzel – DecaturDaily.com
Some people have hired laborers to cut trees that damaged their homes in Tuesday night’s storm. Some recruited the help of friends. And some are simply volunteering to help.
About 10 a.m. Thursday, George Brown of Decatur said he was lending a hand to a homeowner who was at work and was a victim of the roughly 120 trees toppled throughout Decatur.
“I am out here by myself working on this chainsaw, and this big fellow walks up and asked how he can help,” Brown said outside the house on Seventh Avenue Northwest. “He’s been here about three hours picking up branches and carrying them to the street. He hasn’t stopped.”
The big fellow was D.T. Shackelford, who starred in football at Austin High School before playing linebacker at Ole Miss from 2009 to 2014.
“I owe it to my city. I grew up here,” said Shackelford, who is now pursuing a Ph.D. in education from Ole Miss. “Everything they’ve done for me. Decatur has made me who I am today. I owe it to them.”
Sporting a James Harden-style beard, Shackelford admitted he didn’t know who lived at the house. “I haven’t been to Decatur in more than a year,” he said. “But we all have a common bond.”
Shackelford, 27, now calls Dallas home, and said he returns to Oxford, Mississippi, for his doctorate work.
Two separate leg injuries and a medical redshirt allowed Shackelford to stay on the Ole Miss roster for six years, but he did not play in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Those extra years allowed him to earn a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in education, which he earned in 2014.
He said he makes a living as a motivational speaker. But volunteering his time is a passion, he said.
In 2014, Shackelford won the national Wuerffel Trophy, presented to a Football Bowl Subdivision athlete who excels in athletics, academics and community service. “I’m called to serve,” Shackelford said.
Brown said Shackelford stayed focused on his self-given task.
“That’s a good man right there,” Brown said.