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Bengals legend takes dozens of young students out for pizza, new shoes

Anthony Muñoz views the event as a way of paying forward the helping hands his family received when he was young.
Published: Nov. 16, 2021 at 6:41 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Thanksgiving season got off to a rollicking start for 33 Cincinnati Public Schools students who on Tuesday left school early for a pizza party with a Bengals legend.

They also got to pick out a pair of brand new shoes at Target.

The Oyler School students, grade six and younger, were selected based on good behavior in the classroom. First went to LaRosa’s, which one girl called her favorite moment of the day.

“That was probably the best pizza place ever,” said Alaina Ipplee.

At the pizzeria, the students chatted with Bengals Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz, whose foundation put on this ninth annual “Shoegiving.”

The football star says his highlight every year is seeing the smiles on all the kids’ faces.

“Just the interactions with the kids, just sitting there,” Muñoz said. “Probably the grandparents of these kids watched me play, I’ve been out so long! The questions they ask... ‘Did you play with Chad Johnson?’ ‘Did you play with AJ Green?’ No, I’m just a little older than those guys. Just the interaction with these young men and woman is what really motivates me and keeps me going.”

The Shoegiving is just one of several events the Muñoz Foundation puts on throughout the year that aim to help at-risk youth. It’s a cause close to Munoz’s heart due to his upbringing.

“A lot of times, people look at us, individuals who played in the league, and say, ‘You had it made.’ No, a lot of us come from a similar type of background,” Muñoz said.

The former Bengal says the event is, at least in part, his way go giving back to those who gave him a helping hand.

“My mom raised five of us by herself, and working two and three jobs, and a lot of times we didn’t have enough finances to get the things we wanted to, so organizations and individuals came alongside us and helped us out,” Muñoz said. “I’m thankful that we could do this with a lot of kids in the community.”

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