The starting running back/fullback on the early 1980s Seahawks, which was the first team in franchise history to make the playoffs, has been flying well under the radar for years, making a life-changing difference every single day in one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in Seattle.
In fact, to countless families in South Seattle, David Hughes is not a Seahawk. He is an angel.
He and his wife Holly feed holiday meals to families in need, and have actually housed multiple young men who Hughes has coached at Rainier Beach High School as an overqualified volunteer assistant.
The Hughes family founded an inner-city outreach ministry called Paraclete 46, which is named after the number that defined Hughes’ gridiron career, and the Greek word that defines his life: Mentor.
He says it all goes back to losing his father at age 11.
“You can tell I get emotional,” he said. “I lost my dad when I was young, and it was certain people in my life that helped me get to where I was at.”
Hughes isn’t black, and he was raised in Hawaii. But he knows the anger that lies deep inside a teenage boy without a father figure.
Flonita Maxwell worried about her son CJ when he was a teenager.
“Being right there in the south end, everyone knows that it could get rough, and for a teenager, for a young black man, it could get really rough,” Maxwell said.
She and CJ now call David and Holly Hughes family after a flood forced the Maxwells out of their house, and the Hughes family offered up theirs for three days.
“I acted like it was the last three days of my life,” said Maxwell. “Because then, I had a phone and the internet. I found a job, I got a house, and it just went together like this. And it wouldn’t have happened without them.”
“I didn’t have the male dominant in the house, so I never saw somebody do the things Coach Hughes did before,” CJ Maxwell said. “I love them more than some members of my family. That’s just how it is. That’s crazy, but that’s family.”
Maxwell says he didn’t even know he could go to college until Hughes started mentioning it, and now he plays football at a four-year college in Minnesota with plans to get a Master’s Degree.
Hughes isn’t Steve Largent or Marshawn Lynch. He isn’t the most beloved Seahawk in history. But no Seahawk has been truly loved by more people in Seattle, and old No. 46 wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you want to make a donation to help the Hughes family’s organization, go to paraclete46.org.