Ambassador, role model Sammy Watkins to be honored tonight by hometown

Fort Myers' key-to-the-city presentation highlights Watkins' climb from 'bad area' to stardom

Sammy Watkins scores a touchdown against Ohio State in January’s Orange Bowl.

Photo by Mark Crammer

INDEPENDENT MAIL FILE PHOTO Sammy Watkins scores a touchdown against Ohio State in January’s Orange Bowl.

Fort Myers, Florida will honor one of its best ambassadors and role models Friday night when former Clemson star and Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins is presented the key to the city.

Watkins, a standout performer at South Fort Myers High before playing at Clemson, will be honored along with other past local athletes in the Southwest Florida Sports Banquet n’ Ball at City Pier, formerly Art of the Olympians.

“You can do great things,” Watkins told the Buffalo News. "You can turn great things out of bad things. I grew up in a bad area but I didn’t use that as an excuse. It’s all up to me or another person, what they want to do.”

Fort Myers mayor Randy Henderson, who’ll personally present Watkins with the key to the city, said honoring past local athletes is something that’s overdue.

“I don’t know if we’ve been real great as a city or community at recognizing high talent,” Henderson said. “There’s so much talent in this region. When I reflect back 30 years, to have an opportunity to highlight such outstanding achievement, it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t pause for a moment.”

In addition to providing recognition, the event will also raise money for youths who want to attend college while bringing attention to the violence that has been happening in the Fort Myers community, which has led to the deaths of a number of youths.

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