Helping others: A football player embraces Locks of Love

This featured appeared in the Arizona Daily Sun on Oct. 15, 2003.

A CHARITY MOP

By Ed Odeven

Lee Haws always followed the same routine. He shaved his head during the spring and summer months. When football training camp began, he would start letting his hair grow out.

This routine changed in October 2002 after Haws visited a good friend, NAU student Jason Redford, who was going through some difficult times. Around that time, Redford’s father and grandfather had both been diagnosed with cancer.

During his visit, Haws noticed Redford was growing his hair longer than he usually does. Haws inquired about the change.

“I asked him, ‘Hey, how’s your wife liking your hair?’ Then he told me about Locks Of Love, so that was the first I’d heard about it,” said Haws, a fifth-year senior on the NAU football team who has seen time at linebacker, fullback and now tight end during collegiate career.

Redford is growing his hair as a tribute to his father, Lamont. Haws is following suit by growing his hair. Both will eventually donate their hair to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization which provides hair pieces to financially disadvantaged children across the country who suffer from long-term hair loss.

“I admire the guy. He’s a really good friend, so I decided to be supportive of him,” said Haws, who knows Redford from their Mormon Church.

Haws’ nappy mane, which now measures 7 3/4 inches, has been an attention-getter. He’s become a walking billboard of sorts for Locks of Love.

“When people ask me about my hair, some people know about it and some people don’t. It’s pretty much an education for them,” Haws said.

And here’s a quick primer on Locks of Love:

The organization accepts hair that’s a minimum of 10 inches in length.

After the hair is chopped off, bundle it in a ponytail or braid.

To mail it to the organization’s Florida office, place it in a plastic bag and then a padded envelope.

It generally takes 10 to 15 of the aforementioned ponytails to make one hairpiece, which generally costs $3,000 or more when purchased.

Most of the recipients of the hairpieces are girls, but boys also receive them.

Interestingly, the majority of the hair is donated by children.

The main purpose of the organization? Giving kids these hairpieces helps them regain their self-esteem.

For more information on Locks of Love, visit http://www.locksoflove.org or call 888-896-1588.

Last season, NAU teammates dished out some good-natured ribbing to Haws about his new hairdo, telling him to “cut the mop,” he recalled. They called him “Shirley Temple” and “Crusty the Clown.”

“They used to give me a really hard time, but then as my story, or the reason why I was growing it out, got more and more prominent in the locker room, people started to understand why I was doing it,” Haws said.

Junior free safety Brent Daniels is one of the guys who recall some of the playful locker-room banter.

“For a while we were calling him (Jeremy) Shockey from the Giants and saying that he was trying to copy that (long hair),” Daniels said, smiling. “His hair’s crazy. For whatever reason he wants to grow it out, it’s his business. Lee’s a great guy, and Lee can shave his head, shave a Mohawk and he’ll still be a great guy. I support whatever he wants to do with his hair.”

So, what’d Haws’ wife, Allison, think of his longer locks?

“At first she was not too thrilled about the idea,” said Haws, a psychology major who plans to attend graduate school next year. “She’ll be happy when the day comes that I can cut it off. She supports me and she realizes why I’m doing it, and so she’s happy for that reason. But I think she likes the clean-cut Lee Haws and not the Granola-looking Lee Haws.”

NAU coach Jerome Souers said Haws epitomizes the type of student-athlete he loves to coach, one who is a role model on and off the field. He said he’s happy Haws is making a difference for Locks of Love.

“He’s an unselfish man, he’s principled by his faith. I don’t mean it lightly when I say that I think he’s a complete man,” the coach added. “At that age, that’s pretty unique. He’s able to handle his studies, being an athlete, being a husband and a father and still finding time to give to others as unselfishly as he does.”

Haws, who plans to get a trim in April or May, isn’t the only Lumberjack athlete who plans to help out Locks of Love. NAU soccer player Carin Larkin, a junior midfielder, also plans to have her hair cut in the near future.

In the meantime, don’t be shocked if NAU’s “Shockey” is the recipient of a couple locker-room gag gifts

“Well, we’ve got a few wigs floating around that might find their way into his locker,” Daniels said, with a good-natured chuckle. “You never know. Of course, they’d have to be really disgusting.”

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