Joe Haden is a professional football player who signed a five-year, $50 million contract when he was drafted from the University of Florida. Joyce Grendel is an 18-year-old high school senior at Independence (Ohio) High. At first blush, the two wouldn't seem to have much in common, but a closer inspection reveals that they're both avid Twitter users and that neither had taken part in one of the most All-American activities imaginable: A senior prom.
All that made for a compelling backdrop when Grendel asked Haden if he would attend her high school prom with her, a bold step taken via Twitter after her original date backed out in the days before the event. To everyone's surprise, Haden said yes, and showed up right on time to pick up Grendel on Friday in his own white Lamborghini.
As reported by Cleveland ABC affiliate WEWS and Fox station WJW, Haden may have been just as nervous as his significantly less famous date. Because he graduated early from Friendly (Md.) High to enroll at Florida in time for spring workouts before his freshman campaign, Haden never actually got to attend his own senior prom. That made his Friday night experience in Independence a first for him as well.
"I am nervous, too. We were taking pictures with me and her family," Haden told WJW. "I feel this is very legit, like I was getting ready, 'Does this look cool?' when I'm getting ready. I feel like I'm very legit. This is my prom, too."
In fact, the young Browns defensive back said he was happy to take Grendel to the prom because they have developed a friendship which started with membership in Haden's fan club and spread into a previous encounter when Haden went bowling with Grendel and one of her Independence High friends. That prior experience made Grendel's father happy to sign off on the impromptu date for his daughter's big night.
"I knew her because she tweets me a lot, and she's been a really good Haden Nation supporter," Haden told WJW. "All my autographs, all my signings, she always shows up."
Grendel's mother said that Haden's quick response and willingness to take a fan to her prom spoke volumes about how he is anything but a typical pro.
"You know, a lot of times they won't give you the time of day," Carrie Grendel told WEWS. "I think that's sad, because where would they be without the fans? For Joe to take the time to talk to them and respond back, that was huge."
As for the teen herself, she was still stunned that Haden was actually going to the prom when he showed up on Friday night.
"I was screaming, I couldn't believe it," Grendel told WEWS of when she learned Haden would take her to prom. When he arrived right on time, Grendel's reaction was even more telling. "I can't breathe," she said, before quickly greeting Haden with a quick hello.
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