The moment was captured on a video camera when Ray Gaddis was merely six years old. He looked into the camera, draped in his soccer jersey, and with his trademark smile and sparkling eyes, declared that he would one day be a professional soccer player.
WATCH- Ray Gaddis
Now entering his seventh season with Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union after a decorated college career at West Virginia, Gaddis has become one of the City of Brotherly Love’s most respected pro athletes. What has endeared him to most has been a sense of humility and excitement that’s rarely seen in the pro ranks. He’s adamant that success is not derived by being good at his job, but rather by simply being a good person.
Gaddis, an Indianapolis native, is thankful for what the city of Philadelphia and playing for the Union has given him. In turn, and with little fanfare he makes it a point to go out into the city streets to help those who are less fortunate. He recently teamed up with Honeygrow and Chipotle to distribute meals to the homeless. But it’s something he’s been doing for years that folks are now learning about.
As the frigid winter temperatures grip the city, Gaddis knows that a hot meal can make a mometary world of difference, especially for those that don’t have regular access to food.
“Living and playing in Philadelphia given me so many memories, so many blessings, so many incredible experiences, I think it’s vital that when God blesses you, he wants you to bless others,” Gaddis said.
For young athletes looking to emulate someone as a role model, Gaddis – who lives by the adage that if you work hard and have a healthy respect for humanity then good things are bound to happen – would be a good choice.
I think from the beginning, Ray has carried himself the right way, said the Union’s technical director Chris Albright when Gaddis signed a contract extension in 2014. Off the field, I think hes been a great citizen; hes done a lot of things in the community that everybody in the front office can speak to. But in our business, those qualities often go unnoticed if youre not performing on the field, and hes done that as well. Rays God-given ability his athleticism and his speed is something you cant teach. Certainly [interim manager] Jim [Curtin] would say the same thing. I think his ability to be able to shut down opposing attacking midfielders or opposing wingers is a specialty. That being said, what you would call Rays deficiencies a couple of years ago, hes improved on tremendously. And that speaks to his work rate and the way he approaches being a professional.
And yet, the way he approaches being a young man of integrity who uses his gifts to impact others is even more impressive.