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Aaron Donald makes historic 7-figure donation to Pitt football |

Aaron Donald makes historic 7-figure donation to Pitt football

Jerry DiPaola
Los Angeles Rams defensive end Aaron Donald celebrates after a fumble by the against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half in an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Aaron Donald, the two-time defending NFL Defensive Player of the Year of the Los Angeles Rams, is doing more than lifting weights at the University of Pittsburgh Performance center.

Pitt announced Friday morning that Donald, a Penn Hills graduate who was the nation’s most dominant defender in 2013, has made a million-dollar financial commitment to Pitt Football Championship Fund to enhance the team’s performance center.

The fund serves the program in areas such as facility improvement, recruiting, technology and student-athlete development. Donald, 27, is the youngest seven-figure donor in the history of the school. His gift is also the largest donation by a Pitt football letterman to the program.

The ground floor of Pitt’s Duratz Athletic Complex practice facility, where the weight, locker and training rooms are located, will be renamed the Aaron Donald Football Performance Center.

“It was a dream come true to play for the University of Pittsburgh,” Donald said in a statement. “My experience as a Panther is something that influences my life every day, and I want to pay that forward.

“I believe in what coach (Pat) Narduzzi is building at Pitt, and this was an opportunity for me to make a difference for our current and future players. Pitt will always be my school, and I’m honored to be able to support the Blue and Gold.”

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement: “Aaron’s favorite saying is ‘Hard work pays off,’ and his incredible success is certainly a testament to that motto. The wonderful thing about Aaron is how he shares his success with others.

“Even while playing for the Los Angeles Rams, he remains passionately invested in both Pitt and Pittsburgh. The work he puts in daily at Pitt shows our student-athletes the commitment necessary to succeed at the next level.

“As a player and person, Aaron Donald continues to set the highest of standards of what it means to be a Panther.”

An All-American at Pitt in 2013, Donald won the the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy and Rotary Lombardi Award. He was drafted by the Rams with the 13th overall selection in 2014 and has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his five professional seasons. He was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 and ’18, joining Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor (1981-82) and J.J. Watt (2014-15) as the only back-to-back winners of the award.

Said Narduzzi: “Aaron Donald is a legendary football player, but he’s also a legendary human being. Aaron is the toast of Los Angeles, but he’s still a Pitt-and-Penn Hills guy at heart. He’s humble, hardworking and has never forgotten where he came from. … We will work hard every day as coaches and players to make you proud, Aaron.”

Get the latest news about Pitt football and all things Panthers athletics.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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