Andersons give South Side teen VIP treatment

December 24th, 2019

CHICAGO -- When a limousine picked up Kelvion Jelks and his family on Thursday evening, the young participant from the White Sox Amateur City Elite U13 program had no idea the short journey from home was taking him to meet up with his favorite player, .

“I didn’t even know I was coming here,” said Jelks with a broad smile, standing in the White Sox home clubhouse at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Anderson, the White Sox shortstop and reigning American League batting champ, and his wife, Bria, are the definition of a couple using its notoriety for the greater good. The Andersons approached the White Sox about trying to find someone to help during the holiday season, and the White Sox brought Jelks to their attention.

Jelks, joined by his aunt and guardian, Laura Hall, and her son, Demir Johnson, was probably stunned enough walking into the ballpark and getting the VIP treatment. But the shock and glee were noticeable on his face when he saw Anderson and his wife waiting.

After persevering through a young life of adversity, Jelks has become one of ACE’s most promising athletes. While focused on his schoolwork and baseball, Jelks also helps out his aunt, a working single mother.

Jelks and his family received $1,000 in holiday presents from the Andersons unwrapped by Jelks during the visit. There were four pairs of sneakers, a new gaming system, a new television and a signed Anderson jersey, which Jelks quickly tried on.

It was difficult for Jelks to pick a favorite gift of the group, or to describe the time spent talking and taking pictures with Tim and Bria.

“All of it,” said Jelks as he moved in front of the television microphones to be interviewed. “I'm thankful for what he did for me.”

“[Kelvion is] an All-Star, pretty much. He does everything. Every sport he has ever touched, he's excelled at,” Hall said. “They're both pretty great kids for the most part. They are. I couldn't ask for a better two. I'm very grateful to have both of them. It was a complete surprise to him all week. it was a very hard secret to keep because he asked every question.”

According to the White Sox, Jelks hit a big home run during a game last season that sparked back-to-back-to-back home runs from the ACE U13 squad. He also copied Anderson’s trademark bat flip upon contact. Although Jelks sustained a season-ending injury in that same game, he was present at every remaining contest to support his teammates.

Jelks' bat flip was on display again on Thursday, as Anderson coaxed him to re-enact it.

“He was a little shy, but it’s good. I feel like I could get more out of him if you guys weren’t around. But it was dope,” said a smiling Anderson. “It’s definitely cool to hear that I’m his favorite player. I never knew I was anybody’s favorite player.”

The Andersons have two young daughters, and Tim said seeing the smiles on their faces is the best part of Christmas.

And Tim and Bria have been doing what they can to help young people in the Chicago area and his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala., since he became a fixture in the field and as part of the White Sox lineup. They founded Anderson’s League of Leaders in memory of Tim’s best friend, Branden Moss, who was tragically killed while coming to the aid of an assault victim on May 7, 2017, in Tuscaloosa.

Through this organization, dedicated to building leadership skills in youth affected by violence, the Andersons have provided food at Thanksgiving and helped kids with back-to-school haircuts as examples of their kindness. They also have entrenched themselves in Chicago, basically living year-round in the South suburbs.

“Most importantly, I think about my family,” Anderson said. “To be able to play here and go home to my kids every night. For the most part, it kind of feels like home. I came here and felt connected instantly. It was only right to pour it into the city where I'm at.”

“It's something my family, my daughters, we also feel it as well,” Bria said. “It's important for us to embrace the South Side of Chicago where Tim and our family call home, but also to reach the youth. There's a huge problem that's not a secret with the violence and that's what our organization hopes to address. Just kind of doing that by showing up and being supportive.”

Bria added, “It’s important for kids to see positive role models that look like them doing things they haven't done or just being able to see a different way.” Jelks already knew about Anderson’s excellence as a player, but on Thursday discovered his excellence as a person.

"It's easy to give back, especially to be in the position that I'm in, to influence kids and inspire them,” Anderson said. “We don't do it because the camera is around, we do it when the camera is not around. It really is pure.”

“It's important for us to not just say, 'Hey, we want to do something for Christmas,' but to come here and meet Kelvion and his family,” Bria said. “It's genuine and just being able to really have a conversation after hearing all the cool stories from his coaches. Everyone around him is awesome.”

“This means a lot to us,” Hall said. “I just want to say thank you. You all really exceeded my expectations. I'm very grateful for you.”