Lawrence Taylor last played in the NFL before any of the 140 kids who attended his free football camp Friday at Hackensack High School were born.
"It's not every day that you meet a legend like that, where he comes to your school and does an all-day camp for everyone," said Brandon Davis, who'll be a senior wide receiver/defensive back for Hackensack next season. "It was a good time, a very fun experience."
Former Giants teammates Stephen Baker, Beasley Reese and Odessa Turner joined Taylor in coaching and counseling campers, as did fellow ex-Giant Tiki Barber.
The often-embattled Taylor taught and motivated kids Friday, but the Hall-of-Fame linebacker also encouraged them to make smart decisions. He wants them to avoid the types of damaging mistakes he has made off the field both during and after his celebrated career, most of which were the consequence of abusing alcohol and drugs.
Taylor, 53, has remained mostly out of the spotlight since he pled guilty in March 2011 to sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute misdemeanors after allegedly paying an underage girl $300 to have sex with him two years ago in a Suffern, N.Y., hotel room. He received six years probation as part of his plea agreement.
"Slowly but surely, he is getting his life back," said Wayne's Mark Lepselter, Taylor's agent. "His life is going forward. He's had his ups and downs — there's no doubt about that. But he has regained a lot of stability, the family has held together and his kids are very much a part of his life, thank God."
Taylor, a Miami resident, was the guest of honor at the Hackensack Football Pasta Dinner on Thursday night in Little Ferry. He told stories at the fundraiser and at the camp about all of his fond memories of Hackensack.
He often trained at Hackensack's field while he played for the Giants and lived in Upper Saddle River Little Richard's Restaurant, on nearby First Street, was one of his favorite eateries.
"It actually brought back so many memories for me because I worked out on that field back in the day," said Taylor, who wants to conduct the camp again next year. "My daughters suggested we should do this, and I have to give them major applause for making it all come together.
"The coaches from Hackensack High and really everyone who pitched in, I was extremely appreciative."
The feeling was mutual, especially among the Hackensack players who are eager to begin the Comets' first season with Wimberly running the program.
"It definitely motivated us to work harder," said Jordan Coleman, who'll be a senior running back/linebacker next season. "We want to not just make [Taylor] proud, but make the rest of the city proud."