Lamar Sharpe is many things: a Canton police officer, a football coach, a father of nine, the head of a youth mentoring program and a positive fixture in his community. Now, he’s a social media sensation.
Mike Rowe, the genial former host of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” has a new platform and a new mission. In his half-hour program “Returning the Favor,” which runs exclusively on Facebook’s new “Watch” platform, Rowe crosses the country to find hometown heroes who give back to their communities. Rowe then gives back to them.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows Sharpe that he was selected as a subject for this new show. News 5’s Homa Bash profiled Sharpe earlier this year, reporting on his “rock star” presence, and how he has improved his community with his “Be a Better Me” Foundation.
Watch the episode below:
In the latest episode of Rowe’s program, he and his crew visit Canton and spend the day riding along with Sharpe. While visiting community members and handing out snacks to neighborhood kids, Sharpe talks about his upbringing in Detroit, and how he works to build connections with the community after the distrust he had with police while growing up.
Rowe and Sharpe visit some of the community members that he’s had a positive influence on, including one man who became a protégé of Sharpe after a physical altercation with him.
A Facebook executive who grew up near Canton even stopped by during filming.
WARNING: We’re entering spoiler territory now, so you may want to just watch the episode.
Sharpe has been using various spaces around Canton for his mentorship program, “Be a Better Me.” Rowe followed Sharpe to a meeting being held with a group of young men at the VA hall in Canton.
Rowe then drove Sharpe to a spot in downtown Canton where a group of his fellow officers was waiting outside. That’s when Sharpe was hit with the big reveal: a permanent location for “Be a Better Me” in downtown Canton.
Inside the new space, Sharpe was met by his family, friends, co-workers and the dozens of community members he’s helped along the way.
“This little show has been all over the country, we’ve shot in dozens of states, we’ve profiled a lot of people,” Rowe said, with Sharpe fighting back tears. “No one like you, my friend. These people love you. We love everything that you’re doing, and we heard everything you said. Be a Better Me needs a new headquarters, and you’re standing in it right now. The lease is 100 percent taken care of for the next two years. There’s an office in the back with a special desk with your name on it.”