Fort Myers is honoring one of its own this weekend — Super Bowl champion Sammy Watkins of the Kansas City Chiefs, a former South Fort Myers football star.
Watkins returns to Southwest Florida Saturday, where he will have the distinction of being the honorary grand marshal of the Edison Festival of Light parade and celebration.
And no one is prouder of Watkins than his own grandmother, Mary McKinley. She says many fans might not know how deep Watkins’ his love goes for his family.
Grandmother McKinley beams with pride every chance she gets to talk about her grandson, Sammy. And she will again this weekend, as she watches him come down the parade route Saturday night.
McKinley told me this is her favorite time of year because football season is over, and Sammy is home again.
A throw from quarterback Patrick Mahomes was caught by Watkins and put Kansas City in position to win the Super Bowl.
“I think it was one of the best moments of my life,” Watkins said.
Watkins told Miller and Moutlton on Fox Sports Radio that helping the Chiefs win is a dream come true.
“Man, it was such a blur,” Watkins said.
Parade organizers enlisted Watkins’ former coach at South Fort Myers High School to extend the honor of grand marshal to him. And coach Joe Hampton will be the one driving Watkins, his star wide receiver, in the parade.
While Sammy may be a star to football fans, to his grandma, he’s just her “Bud.”
“When I see him run, ‘Oh, that’s good. Run, Bud, run,’” McKinley said.
We sat down with McKinley inside the home where Watkins grew up ahead of his arrival this weekend. McKinley had some of her own ideas about what the man her grandson would grow up to be.
“Mostly, I thought a comedian because he’s real funny sometimes,” McKinley said. “But I knew he was going to be good at whatever he did. And it looked like football was going to be it.”
McKinley loves telling stories of Sammy as a little boy, and also about how proud she is of the man he is today, especially stepping up to help take care of his grandfather.
“When my husband was sick, when his granddaddy was sick, his mom let him come stay with me him and his brother,” McKinley said. “And, so, he would get up all through the night picking him up.”
And while his home team has changed over the years, his hometown will forever be Southwest Florida
“I’m just so proud of him,” McKinley said. “I’m proud of all my grandchildren.”