Since being drafted by the Cardinals with the third overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft, Larry Fitzgerald continued to become one of the NFL’s elite players and shatter virtually every receiving record in Cardinals history. In nine seasons with Arizona, the seven-time Pro Bowler has become the franchise career leader in receptions (764), receiving yards (10,413), 1,00-yard receiving seasons (6), receiving TDs (77), total TDs (77) and 100-yard receiving games (34).
Fitzgerald’s path to the NFL was paved during his teen years when he spent time as a ball boy for his hometown Minnesota Vikings under then head coach Dennis Green. After learning the tools of the trade from Vikings receivers Cris Carter and Randy Moss, Fitzgerald went on to attend Valley Forge Prep Academy in Pennsylvania following his senior season in High School.
In just two seasons at the University of Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald became one of the most decorated receivers in Big East Conference history. In 26 career games with the Panthers, Fitzgerald caught 161 passes for 2,677 yards (16.6-yard avg.) and 34 TDs. A Heisman Trophy runner-up following his sophomore season, Fitzgerald earned first-team All-American honors and won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s best wide receiver.
It didn’t take Fitzgerald long to mark his mark in the NFL. During the 2005 season, Fitzgerald hauled in a franchise record 103 receptions, and at 22 years, 123 days old, became the youngest player in NFL history to post a 100-catch campaign.
Despite the record-breaking success of his first few campaigns, it was during the Cardinals run to Super Bowl XLIII following the 2008 season that Fitzgerald became a household name. In one of the best postseasons of any player in NFL history, Fitzgerald shattered the NFL single postseason record for receptions (30), receiving yards (546), and receiving TDs (7). With 100 yards receiving in each of the team’s four postseason games in ‘08, he also set the NFL record for most consecutive playoff games with 100 yards receiving.
Being one of just four players in NFL history to record at least 1,400 yards receiving four times in his career, and also being known as the first receiver in NFL history to record 90+ receptions five times in seven seasons are just a few of the incredible NFL career milestones for Fitzgerald.
In addition to his contributions on the field, Fitzgerald’s impact in the community has been felt both locally and globally. In 2012, Fitzgerald was named one of three finalists for the “Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year” Award and was also named the recipient of the 14th Annual Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian Award by Pro Football Weekly, which is given to the NFL player whose contributions to the community and charitable organizations are especially outstanding.
A tireless supporter of breast cancer research, Fitzgerald set up the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund in honor of his later mother who passed away from the devastating disease in 2003. For the past three seasons, Fitzgerald has tied his on-field success to his contributions to Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, pledging $1,000 for every catch and $5,000 for every touchdown during the month in 2012. He donated $27,000 to breast cancer awareness last year after donating $19,000 in 2011 and $33,000 in 2010. In 2009, Fitzgerald also served as the national spokesperson for the NFL’s “Crucial Catch” screening campaign to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. He wore pink gloves, cleats and wristbands that were auctioned off with proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society to help draw attention to the cause.
Fitzgerald has also converted his love of travel into an opportunity to continue his charity work overseas as well. In 2013, Fitzgerald has made humanitarian trips to Senegal and to the Philippines. In Senegal Larry traveled with fellow NFL wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Roddy White to visit projects supported by Oxfam America, including a thriving women’s garden where they helped build a fence to protect the crops from hippos, and they visited mining communities that have been adversely affected by large-scale mining operations. In the Philippines Larry worked with Starkey Hearing Foundation to fit hundreds of children with hearing aids.
It marked Fitzgerald’s second straight year volunteering with Oxfam America and third year with the Starkey Hearing Foundation. With those two relief organizations, Fitzgerald has spent time volunteering in Thailand, India, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Malaysia, Senegal and the Phillippines over the last three years.