5 things to know about Sean Lee's charity work: LB is monster on the field, has a heart of gold off it

Dec 15, 2016 | by Kristi Scales, SportsDay

Linebacker Sean Lee is this season's nominee for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for the Dallas Cowboys, which recognizes a player's excellence on and off the field.
Here are five things to know about Lee's nomination:

1. The bulk of his off-the-field charitable work is with two worthy charities.
"There are two different charities we help, The Boys & Girls Clubs and PMR Charities," Lee said. "The work with the Boys & Girls Clubs started off as Legends for Literacy, so we were buying tablets with reading programs. We've gotten so much support that we're helping in any way possible. Now we're looking into bringing sports courts to the local Boys & Girls Clubs.
"We also work with PMR Charities which helps people who have issues paying their medical bills. There are families who get in situations where maybe their son or daughter has a rare medical disease and they have trouble paying their bills and maybe they lose their home."
2. Before Lee and his wife, Megan, were married in 2014, they decided to forego the tradition of registering for wedding gifts. Instead, if any of their wedding guests wanted to buy them a present, Sean and Megan said they preferred that any money spent on gifts would instead be donated to a fund set up for the family of a young girl whose unpaid medical bills continued to mount as she battled a rare disease. Stories similar to those faced by the young girl's family led to Lee's work for PMR Charities.

3. Lee's interest in literacy programs is heartfelt. His younger sister needed tutoring and extra help with schoolwork early in her education because of learning disabilities. Thanks to hard work and extra help in her early years, she became a star student and graduated college with honors. Lee wants all kids to have the same opportunities and help that his sister received.

4. If Lee were to win the league-wide award, he would be the fourth Cowboy honored as the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year joining the likes of Roger Staubach (1978), Troy Aikman (1997), and Jason Witten (2012).

"There's also a long history with the Cowboys of giving back to the community and doing a lot of great things," he notes. "That's something that, when I got here, that I was motivated by. You see guys within the organization that have won -- Roger, Troy and Witten -- they're Hall of Famers who are unbelievable people and role models to all of us. It's something I take seriously, something we all take seriously."

5. Lee prefers to keep his off the field on the down-low, but he also knows that his status as a Dallas Cowboy can bring attention to worthy causes.
"There are causes that you want to bring publicity to, but there are also times where you want to do things just because it's the right thing to do," says Lee. "That's the responsibility of being in the position we're in -- we have to step up as athletes in the community."