Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 9/12/12

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 06: James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers gestures during the game against the Oakland Raiders on December 6, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
The weight room in the indoor field house at Kent State University will soon be named after Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. A donation of 100,000 will do that. Harrison, an Akron, Ohio native who played at Kent State before embarking upon a unique, winding NFL journey that's taken him from street free agent to NFL Defensive Player of the Year, had his 100,000 donation approved by the school's board of trustees on Wednesday. The Steelers released Harrison three times in 2002-03. He signed an offseason contract with the Baltimore Ravens and played a season in NFL Europe. He re-signed with the Steelers after the Ravens released him, and in 2004 got a spot start when starting outside linebacker Joey Porter was ejected for a pregame fight at Cleveland. His career has taken off from there. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, the same year he returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII, and is a four-time Pro Bowler. Harrison, now 34, is battling back from knee surgery and missed last week's Steelers season opener at Denver. Kent State's news release said Harrison's donation will fund scholarships and facility upgrades. Having his name on the weight room will have special meaning to Harrison. Early in his career, Harrison would return to campus in the NFL offseason to work with then-Kent State strength coach Ryan Tedford. He now lives and trains in Arizona in the offseason but has remained close to the school, attending last season's nationally-televised game vs. Central Michigan and watching from the sidelines. "We are extremely grateful to James for his commitment to Kent State and the football program," Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen said. "He is one of the most recognizable figures in the NFL today and his support is sure to have a lasting effect on our student-athletes now and in the future." A Kent State source said Harrison started inquiring about how he could donate to the program "shortly after the ink was dry on his new contract," a 51 million deal he signed in 2009. "It means something to James to be a part of things at Kent," the source said. "He genuinely cares." He's also been an active fundraiser at Akron Coventry, his high school alma mater, and has made donations to the football program and student-athletes there while asking that his work not make headlines. There's a rags to riches theme in his pre-NFL story, too. The youngest of 14 children, Harrison showed up at Kent State as an academic non-qualifier for football in 1998 and drove a student campus bus while paying his own way. He got eligible, got on scholarship and played for the Flashes from 1999-2001. The Flashes last had a winning season in 2001, going 6-5 in part thanks to a late, game-saving sack by Harrison in the season finale over Miami-Ohio. The quarterback he sacked? Ben Roethlisberger, now his teammate in Pittsburgh. Harrison's head coach at Kent State was Dean Pees, who's now the Ravens defensive coordinator. Harrison's one-time Kent State teammate, Cleveland Browns return specialist Joshua Cribbs, also pledged 100,000 to the school when his jersey was retired in a 2010 ceremony. Harrison's Kent State jersey isn't retired -- yet. His donation ensures that his legacy will live on.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Cult of Sport: Before there was Ezekiel Elliott, there was Eric Dickerson
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Aroldis Chapman signs with Yankees

Le’Veon Bell thinks Giants were trying to hurt him

White Sox trade Adam Eaton to Nationals for haul of impressive prospects

Looking at NFL injuries that could impact the Super Bowl chase

Report: RG3 to start Sunday barring health setback

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Major changes could be coming to the World Cup in 2026

Peterson planning to return if Vikings stay in playoff hunt

Desmond’s deal with Rockies is puzzling, opens door for trades

Report: ‘Well has been poisoned’ for Lane Kiffin as USF candidate

Johnny Manziel tells Lamar Jackson not to go to Browns

NCAA president on Penn State: ‘How could you not be pleased?’

TailGreater: Tips for bowl travelers

Ranking the single-player modes of the 2017 sports games

Box Score 12/7: The date we got to know Bo

MLB Winter Meetings report, Day 2: News, notes and rumors

Ten most intriguing non-NY6 bowl games

Breaking down the NFL playoff picture heading into Week 14

The best (and worst) times athletes hosted 'SNL'

The five must-have sports games of 2016

MLB Winter Meetings report, Day 1: News, notes and rumors

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

Box Score 12/6: Klay Thompson and the ball of fire

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

TailGreater: Tips for bowl travelers

Ranking the single-player modes of the 2017 sports games

MLB Winter Meetings report, Day 2: News, notes and rumors

The five best (and worst) times athletes hosted 'SNL'

The five must-have sports games of 2016

Winter Meetings report, Day 1: News, notes and rumors

The five 2016 Heisman finalists: How do they measure up?

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Sporting life: Gifts for real fans (that aren't ugly NFL Christmas sweaters)

The good, bad, and ugly from NFL Week 13

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker