We know Demario Davis for who he is today - a team leader on the New Orleans Saints. You would see him electrifying fans with his pre-game speeches, dynamic plays, and exuberant celebrations.
He is a two-time All-Pro player, family man, and the Man of God - as printed on his black and gold headbands. Demario is more than what you see associated with the NFL. He's an advocate for change in America.
The Demario Davis we see today may never have been. Why? A misdemeanor charge for shoplifting while Davis was attending Arkansas State University.
“Shoplifting at a Walmart. I did it," he told reporter Rick Cleveland.
Demario is featured in a movie documentary, "Racially Charged: America's Misdemeanor Problem."
"At that time, I didn't even understand the system and how it worked. And how close I was to my own detriment. My life could have been derailed," said Davis in the movie.
The film explores America's history of racial injustice and the abuse of criminal justice power, especially in misdemeanor infractions. According to the expose', close to 13 million people a year - a majority are poor and minorities - face the abuse of an unfair and unbalanced criminal justice system.
Years ago, Demario and a teammate shoplifted groceries. Both men could have remained in jail until someone posted bail or their appearance in court. Fortunately, Arkansas State's assistant coaches posted bail for Davis and his teammate.
Unfortunately, many Americans charged with a misdemeanor will not be released from jail for months, only until their cases are presented in a courtroom. After the proceedings, many remain incarcerated to serve the court's sentences.
Today, Davis is an advocate for prison reform in the country. The topic is sensitive yet sobering.
His advocacy extends beyond prison reform. Off the football field, Davis works tirelessly for his Devoted Dreamers Foundation and a non-profit organization with Drew Brees and Josh Norman, Shield 1 – Impact Investing. He is also a Players Coalition key player.
My life could have been very different, realizing that court cases get backed up, and when they happen, you could be there [in jail] for months...I had a great college career and being able to change my life. Now, that wouldn't have happened had my coaches not bailed me out. I want to be able to help create a better system, to if you do get entangled [jailed], it's not designed to keep you there." explained Davis.
The 'Racially Charged' movie can be viewed on YouTube.