October 11, 2020 was a solemn day in the Dallas sports community and the NFL. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott writhed in pain on the turf of AT&T Stadium with a season-ending ankle injury that has since thrown the Cowboys into disarray.
Prescott was en route to shattering franchise and league records in his fifth season with the Cowboys. He responded to the shocking halt of his season in a classy, Prescott-esque way - a video thanking fans and teammates for all the support directed his way.
One Texas artist's creativity was sparked, with the desire for his mural to bring the community together and rally positivity for Prescott.
"When Prescott got hurt ... We wanted to show support, both me and the owners of AJ's Body Shop," said Juan Velazquez of his creation in Grand Prairie. "We wanted Prescott to see it and hopefully make him happy or make him feel like 'You are not alone, we haven't given up on you.'"
A member of Prescott's family reached out to Velazquez to thank him and let him know that Prescott would indeed see it.
Velazquez has his own audience; 50-300 people come out to watch him paint, and even more tune in on social media. It's a safe activity and with many museums still closed because of COVID-19, public are is a great way for the community to come together for a cause.
"In a time where social issues can be dividing people, it's good to bring people together (with art)," Velazquez said. "Just like sports. There is a lot of people that have different views but we get behind the same team. We need more of that. We need more things that unite people."
Cowboys Worried? Eagles Brag: We’re an ‘Unstoppable All-Star Team’
The Philadelphia Eagles made some significant and impressive moves this offseason, but was it enough for them to win the East?
Cowboys Challenge: Can Micah Parsons Break NFL Sack Record?
The current record for most sacks in a single season is 22.5, which is shared by former New York Giants star Michael Strahan and last season’s defensive player of the year T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Trevon Diggs and Who? Cowboys Need CB Camp Competition
Will Jourdan Lewis remain the starter at slot corner?
"There is no language barrier for art. You can have people who speak different languages, with different political views, all come together, and like the same thing."
Velazquez is still cheering on the Cowboys but notes that the last few games have showed how important Prescott is to the team and how impactful his absence has been. "The quarterback is not just a player," Velazquez said. "He is the leader of the team. We need him back."
Velazquez, who is also a soldier in the Army, has had a busy seven months, completing more than 30 murals across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The huge mural of the Dallas sports stars comes with its own challenges.
"The hardest part is painting the eyes," Velazquez said. 'When you paint somebody that everybody knows, everybody knows if it doesn't look like them. It's hard when you paint celebrities."
The mural is on the side of AJ's Body Shop on West Jefferson Street in Grand Prairie. You can stop by to see it with the new Ezekiel Elliott addition (and coming soon Dallas Mavericks figures Luka Doncic and Dirk Nowitzki) in person or follow Velazquez on Instagram for updates.