CORTLAND, N.Y. — Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray made a surprise appearance at Suggett Park in Cortland Thursday, signing autographs and taking photos with local residents.
Murray, a central New York native who excelled at football, basketball, and track at Onondaga Central School, was invited to the Crown City by Caleb Wright, a Cortland native who aspires to play at the professional level. Wright was introduced to Murray through his trainer, Vinny Scollo, who trains athletes at Pacific Health Club in Syracuse.
On a whim, Wright asked Murray if he would come to Cortland, and the NFL star took him up on the offer.
“The cool thing about Latavius is his genuine heart,” Wright said. “He really didn’t have to be here. He doesn’t have any ties to Cortland other than me. He did this strictly because he cared.”
Prior to Thursday’s meet-and-greet, Murray helped train young athletes at his alma mater.
Wright has been playing football since the third grade. He attended Smith Elementary School and graduated from Cortland High School in 2010. He continued his football career at SUNY Morrisville, where he also played basketball.
Wright recently spent a season playing at the linebacker and defensive back positions for the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, a team of the National Arena League (NAL). He decided to leave the arena football franchise to pursue other options.
Wright’s father, Nathaniel Wright, had a brief career at the professional level, playing football at Syracuse University and later signing a 3-year deal with the Buffalo Bills. Today, he is the pastor at God’s Lighthouse of Praise on Port Watson Street in Cortland.
“I have somebody I can look up to that actually did it in my family,” Wright said.