PONTIAC (WWJ) – An NFL player returns to his hometown to visit Lighthouse of Oakland County. New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray has a strong connection to the organization.

His mother worked there when he was young — and he spent most of his days at Lighthouse with her.

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Gray returned to Lighthouse, where he played games when he was young, with a mission to donate $5,000 to Lighthouse — which provides services for those in need. And he had this message to Metro Detroiters:

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“The one thing I have learned about the city of Detroit, the metro area and the city of Pontiac, where I am from, is that the city itself has gone through tough times and it keeps picking itself back up and I think the one thing I want to stress to them is ‘never give up’ and ‘believe in yourself.'”

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Gray, who was injured during his senior year at Notre Dame, says his determination paid off. He says when things don’t go your way or tear you apart, don’t lose hope. He says you learn from it and become better because of it.