He may not have heard his name called until the third day, but the weekend of the NFL Draft is always special for Ja'Whaun Bentley.
For the New England Patriots captain, it's a reminder of how far he has come.
Sitting in front of hundreds on Thursday at the Pine Street Inn's "Home Remedy" benefit breakfast, just one day before the 2023 NFL Draft, the linebacker shared his story of housing insecurity before making it to the league.
"It takes me back," Bentley said in a conversation with moderator and Patriots announcer Bob Socci. "The NFL Draft is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that changes your family's life."
Now, he's paying it back.
Bentley's first encounter with the Pine Street Inn was back in October.
He and teammates Deatrich Wise Jr. and Myles Bryant visited to give out outreach kits and sleeping bag coats for those experiencing homelessness.
Having been in a similar situation himself, the mission of the non-profit, which provides shelter and resources to more than 2,000 individuals in the Boston area per day, resonated with him.
Pine Street Inn's programs include permanent housing, emergency shelter, street outreach, and workforce development.
Reflecting on the nearly eight years that his family struggled after his father lost his job, Bentley knows just how important those resources are.
"You always think back about how far you've come," Bentley said. "Being in the position I'm in now, and hearing all the great things that Pine Street Inn is able to do, it meant a lot for me to get involved."
An event like Thursday morning's only further support Pine Street Inn's mission and expand its reach -- especially with Bentley's inspiring story and call to action.
"The football field is one thing, but life is still happening," Bentley said.
"Who knows how far we can go with more people that get involved?"