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Man rescued from house fire by Cleveland Rams made 'honorary captain' during opening game

Henry Clay.jpg
Posted at 11:20 PM, May 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-07 23:51:15-04

CLEVELAND — The season opener for the Cleveland Rams Saturday was more than a game, it was also a fresh start for the team and the man whose life they saved weeks earlier.

“I had no idea who they were until now. But I know who they are now,” said Henry Clay.

On April 20, the Rams were practicing at Roye Kidd Field in southeast Cleveland when they spotted Clay’s house catch fire nearby. The team owner called 911 while a group of players scaled the 18-foot fence separating the field from the house when they saw Clay pass out in the entryway.

Semi-pro football team members rescue man from house fire

“It was just a split-second decision, just like, ‘Hey, something’s got to be done.’ We just hopped the gate and I was like, ‘Hey, let’s just get him out,’” explained Marquis Moton, a trained EMT and running back for the Rams.

He and teammates Diontez May and Charonjeone Williams helped carry the partially conscious man out of the house and across the street to safety.

Williams, a nurse, stayed with Clay until first responders arrived at the scene.

“I came to and they were around me. One of them didn’t leave my side, he had his arm around me,” Clay recalled. “I love them.”

The 59-year-old spent several days in the hospital recovering from smoke inhalation. Most of the home, which his parents bought in 1970, was damaged by fire, smoke and water.

“I lost everything,” he explained. “When I got out of the hospital, I didn’t have a pair of shoes.”

The Cleveland Rams stayed in touch with Clay, inviting him to the team’s opening game on Saturday.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Williams said. “From that horrible experience to him actually seeing us play.”

Team owner Randy Knight added, “He’s full of life. He walks around, he’s happy. He calls us everyday. He’s a funny guy. It’s like we have a new uncle. We’re excited to have him around.”

The 2022 season was uncertain for the Rams until recently. Due to a scheduling conflict, they were told the field they’d used for six years would no longer be available for games and practices.

When word circulated about the Rams’ circumstances, the community stepped up for the hometown heroes. Central Catholic High School offered use of its field and Cleveland Browns legendary quarterback Bernie Kosar, along with 428 Athletics, offered to cover the cost of the facilities for the entire season.

“[The Rams are] really an inspiration to all of us out there to see them put their lives at risk and go into that burning house,” said Kosar. “I’m just honored and humbled to be a part of this today.”

Kosar attended Saturday’s game. The Browns’ newest quarterback, Deshaun Watson, also made an appearance to see the heroes in person.


“We didn’t do it for the recognition or anything. We did it out of the kindness of our hearts because we saw somebody struggling,” Diontez May said. “There’s so much negativity going on in our communities that we wanted to show that there are positive people out here.”

Knight added, “It shows everybody if you help your community, your community will help you as well.”

Clay was made the honorary captain for the game Saturday. He told News 5 the team has made a profound impact on him.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I’m going to be at every game I can attend.”

The Cleveland Rams have set up an online fundraiser to help Clay get back on his feet after the fire. You can find more information by clicking on this link.

RELATED: Members of Cleveland Rams semi-pro football team rescue man from house fire

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