Just a few blocks down the street from the sign that bears his name, D'Brickashaw Ferguson returned home Tuesday.
The hallways of Freeport's Leo F. Giblyn elementary school seem much smaller now to the 6-6, 310-pound Jets left tackle. But Ferguson's Long Island roots remain firmly embedded, not only in his character, but in his desire to give back.
As he stepped into the school's gymnasium -- the site of his fourth grade chorus concert, he later added with pride -- the NFL star was cheered by 200 third- and fourth-graders, all of whom share his same elementary school beginnings.
Ferguson purposely picked Giblyn as the setting for his first book "GO GREEN!" -- the first installment in his "Brick's Way" series -- because he wanted to give back to his community. And on Tuesday, his former school became the first stop on a small circuit of book readings he hopes to do at local schools.
"I wanted to be able to come back and at least touch home," said Ferguson, who along with his wife, Kirsten, donated 30 copies of his book -- one for each classroom -- and provided students with NFL gift bags and other giveaways. "Ultimately, today was about Giblyn. Because I've come out of Freeport, I've accomplished some things and now I just wanted to come back.
"The cycle continues."
To the students, Ferguson, 28, is their future personified -- tangible proof of the potential for success for each of them. It's been almost 20 years since the offensive lineman sat in a Giblyn classroom, but after all this time, he still reflects on the impact his hometown has had on his life.
Dressed in all dark clothing, save for his bright red sneakers ("Gotta represent Freeport school spirit," he said with a smile), Ferguson was caught slightly off-guard by the rousing reception he received.
He is a superstar by virtue of his profession, constantly bombarded by interview and photo requests. But the palpable excitement within the gymnasium walls was a far different experience for him.
"I don't think you ever get used to the genuineness," said Ferguson, who spoke at a Giblyn event two years ago. "It feels good to know that they've made that connection with me, they haven't forgotten me."