University City

Humanitarian has big heart, low profile

Darius Law does good things well.

The spectators who watched four years of his meets as a Charlotte 49ers track-and-field star most likely would tell you so. His professors, who saw him graduate with a 4.0 GPA from UNC Charlotte's Belk College of Business would tell you the same.

But for a handful of people who saw it one day in a Baptist church parking lot in Charlotte, the smile on a young boy's face tells of Law's accomplishments best.

There's a reason why Law was awarded the Nish Jamgotch Jr. Humanitarian Student Award, given to a UNC Charlotte student who does extraordinary things for people. Law is an extraordinary fellow, although he would be the last to admit it.

"People talk about my accomplishments, but I don't really like to talk about my accomplishments," he said. "I like to live my life low-key."

His actions backed up those words one day last semester, when Law, along with other Charlotte 49ers, volunteered with Samaritan's Feet to hand out new shoes to the area's needy.

A young boy among the 200 people who walked to the Faith Memorial Baptist Church parking lot that day plunked down on one of the folding metal chairs and hoped to fit into a new pair of shoes.

The boy, who sat across from Law - a bucket of warm, sudsy water between them - didn't know of the college graduate's accomplishments on the field or in the classroom.

Law didn't tell him; instead, he dipped each little foot in the soapy water and washed them clean. He dried them, unwrapped a fresh pair of socks and tied a brand new pair of sneakers on the young feet.

The child didn't know his feet were washed by a man in training for the 2012 Olympic trials, or by a man studying the LSAT with the intention of getting into a top law school.

But he did begin to know the feeling of pride. Law watched as the boy stood tall and walked away looking down at his new shoes, a wide grin on his face.

"For me, that makes me powerful," said Law.

Law learned early that a little kindness could turn someone around in dramatic ways. He grew up in Raleigh, the son of a single parent who took in some of the city's most troubled foster kids. "I had a rare childhood, rare experiences growing up," said Law. "I've seen a lot of things with my own eyes."

At a recent lunch with Nish Jamgotch Jr. - the retired UNC Charlotte political science professor who established the humanitarian award and the $10,000 prize given to Law this year - the young athlete and scholar expressed his gratitude and desire to help continue good works. He understands how much power can be in a seemingly small good deed.

"When I'm in the position to do the same thing, I look forward to the day when I can pay it forward by having the Darius Law Humanitarian Student Athlete Award," Law told the Jamgotch. "That's how I'll pay it forward."

In brief

Here are some upcoming events at UNC Charlotte:

LSAT Exam Preparation Course, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesday to July 26, UNC Charlotte Main Campus. Call 704-687-8900 for information.

Jazz on the Patio, noon-2p.m. Wednesday. Student Union patio. Free.

Gender in a Box, a workshop to examine male/female identities as well as race, sexuality, and class, will be offered 5 p.m. Wednesday. Student Union, Room 567. Free.