Sebastian Joseph-Day is a mountain of a man. And inside this giant lies a huge heart. Since joining Los Angeles Rams in 2018, Joseph-Day, nicknamed “Bash”or “SJD,” has responded not only with big plays on the field, but also by being a huge presence in the LA community and beyond.
When the Rams moved back west in 2016, the organization set out to establish themselves as not only a successful franchise on the field, but as a leader in creating meaningful community engagement. Management and players collaborated to help build a network of outreach initiatives that would serve those in need with food, education, and social justice support.
When the Rams selected Joseph-Day out of Rutgers in the 2018 NFL Draft, his relentless work ethic not only helped him fit into their plans on the field, but his history of philanthropy made him a natural for the teams’ commitment to civic participation.
“Honestly,” Joseph-Day said, “there’s a plethora of things that I’ve witnessed through my charity work from food insecurity to the digital divide within the school systems to highlighting local restaurateurs struggling during the pandemic.”
Being active in his community is nothing new for Joseph-Day, his off-field contributions to the needy and society at-large were a big part of his college experience at Rutgers. He was involved with the Special Olympics, Read Across America, and he volunteered at Robert Johnson Wood Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was also involved with Athletes in Action, a Christian fellowship organization and joined them on a mission trip to South Africa. SJD earned Big-10 Philanthropy/Academic honors from 2015 through 2017.
“I feel it’s important to give back to this local community,” Joseph-Day said, “because our community represents us in essence. They’re the past, present and future of this country and I feel as though we’re only as strong as those that are in need.”
Reaching beyond California
Joseph-Day learned his work his work ethic and the value of giving back from his parents. A first generation Haitian-American, his parents were born in Haiti, immigrated to the United States and settled into Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, where Sebastian was raised. So it is no surprise he wanted to help the impoverished Caribbean Island when offered the chance.
In 2019 Joseph-Day was named an Official Brand Ambassador for Special Olympics Haiti. As part of Special Olympics International, the Haitian branch offers sports training, competition, healthy activities, confidence-building, and safe space to people with intellectual disabilities. Both young and old.
Joseph-Day’s role is to work as liaison between the group, media, influencers and the public. With the goal being to build a network of staff, trainers and volunteers who can offer support and service’s to combat isolation, indifference, and attitudes amongst people with intellectual disabilities through activities.
He is also an ambassador to the Haiti Meals on Wheels project.
A big part of his Haitian cultural background is food. As a world-class athlete, fueling his body remains a point of emphasis. For Joseph-Day, it’s not only a personal fundamental, he’s made it his mission to feed the hungry and help educate others on the benefits of proper nutrition and freshly prepared foods.
Feeding Los Angeles
This past summer, Joseph-Day kicked off his Bashing Hunger program to raise money and awareness about providing food security, alleviating hunger, and education on nutritional information. Turning this awareness into action, the program opened by partnering with the St. Joseph’s Center in Venice, California. to feed the homeless and supply bags of food to visitors.
In an article posted on Joseph-Day’s personal website, the Rams nose tackle said:
“Combating hunger has been something that I’ve always tried to attack through all of my charitable efforts. I believe that no one should suffer or worry about when their next meal will be. The physical and emotional stress attached to hunger is debilitating. The goal of Bashing Hunger is to help build sustainable resources to eliminate food deprivation.”
In partnership with Pepsi + Albertsons we provided over 5,200 meals to help tackle food insecurity.— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 12, 2022
Thank you to @SJD_51 for hosting initiatives that benefitted @FeedingAmerica food banks in LA, Orange County + Ventura County! pic.twitter.com/g3pl3iLjIk
As Los Angeles communities struggled to overcome COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, Joseph-Day worked to support first responders and local businesses. At the height of COVID, he teamed with local chefs to provide 250 meals for the workers at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. He was moved to make the $10,000 donation after seeing a New York Times video news report. In a video press conference via the LA Rams official website, Joseph-Day said,
“I was sitting in bed, just watching it and my jaw dropped, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine the stress that they are under right now. At that point, I knew that I definitely had to somehow contribute to our medical heroes.”
Small, local businesses in Los Angeles were among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 shutdown. Many were forced to close permanently and other were on life support and deeply cut back on employees to survive.
To help local restaurant owners, Joseph-Day created and hosts Dine-N-Bash, a web-based video series with episodes shown on YouTube. The series gives valuable recognition to local, small food entrepreneurs and restaurateurs ( many minority owned) and their impacts on local life.
“I started Dine-N-Bash,” Joseph-Day said, “during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when all local restaurants were shut down and employees were out of work. I wanted to highlight the people behind these amazing businesses and their unique stories. I felt like by doing this, this breaks down a barrier between the owner and customers allowing them to relate and empathize with one another.”
Committed to creating change
The Players Coalition is a group of 1,400 professional athletes, coaches, and owners across all sports leagues working to improve social justice and racial equality in the United States. Sebastian Joseph-Day is an active member, using his college degree in Media Studies and Journalism to write thought-provoking articles, engage the public, and represent the the group. As an envoy for the Players Coalition, Joseph-Day has presented $88,000 in checks to LA schools and held round table discussions on income and education inequality.
Joseph-Day and his teammates Michael Brockers, Andrew Whitworth and Johnny Hekker pooled their resources together to raise $750,000. The money was dispersed to 25 LA non-profit charities that help the poor, support social justice, and fight for equality.
Getting ready for Super Bowl LVI
While in preparation for his role on the NFL’s biggest stage for Super Bowl LVI, the Rams nose tackle is taking the time to enjoy the moment and reflect on the joys that his on-field exploits, as well his community advocacy have bestowed on him.
“As I prepare for the Super Bowl,” he said, “I am just elated. I feel blessed beyond measure, two Super Bowl appearances in four seasons is an insanely tough task. Credit goes out to the coaches, teammates, support staff and ownership for letting us all get there again.
“Recently, I answered Christmas wishes from 69 children from a local non-profit based in South Central Los Angeles, ‘A Place Called Home.’ Reading their letters to me really touched my heart … knowing that I was providing some sort of happiness to kids during the holidays definitely brought a smile to my face.”
On his first trip to the Super Bowl, Joseph-Day paid homage to his Pennsylvania roots by partnering with a local restaurant, the Yard of Ale on Main Street in Stroudsburg, to create “The Bash Burger.” The meaty menu item was such a hit that it was added to the restaurant’s regular menu and $4 of each burger sold on Sundays went to the Monroe County (PA) Meals on Wheels program.
A restaurant is honoring Stroudsburg native and @RamsNFL defensive lineman @SJD_51 with a Super Bowl Burger! Meet “The Bash” .. It’s on the menu at Yard of Ale on Main Street and it’s topped with all of #69’s favorites! @WNEP pic.twitter.com/1VLv91kPeN— Carmella Mataloni (@Carmella_News) January 31, 2019
How everyone can help
Even with all the efforts and good work done by Joseph-Day and the Rams, much work needs to be done to advocate for people struggling to cope with problems beyond their control. He urges fans to get involved in their own neighborhoods and become a catalyst for positive change.
According to SJD, “Easy ways for everyone to help is to donate perishable goods to local food shelters like St. Joseph’s Center in Venice, California. Also by donating school supplies such as books, book bags, pencils, laptops, calculators etc. to struggling low-income communities so that those students can have an equal playing field in their education to become successful. Lastly, you should visit your favorite local restaurants to support them in keeping afloat during this ongoing pandemic.”
Future in Los Angeles
Unrestricted free agency looms for Joseph-Day after Super Bowl LVI. A combination of his on-field production value and the Rams’ lack of available cash for re-signing their many free agents may precipitate his departure. If Joseph-Day were to leave, both the team and the community he serves so well will be at a loss. He is the quintessential example of the new LA Rams’ regime. Molly Higgins, Rams Vice-President of Community Affairs and Engagement perhaps said it best:
“Since joining the Rams, Sebastian has consistently demonstrated a unique passion and commitment to community service ... Sebastian represents the best of the LA Rams and always epitomizes our ‘We Not Me’ culture through his incredible compassion and love for humanity.”
In a big city, in a game of big men, and on the NFL’s biggest stage, Sebastian Joseph-Day stands out as a larger-than-life character.
Growing up in a Haitian background food was the center of our culture. We celebrated with food, expressed our love for one another with food & learned/ heard some amazing things and stories with food….. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”— Sebastian Joseph-Day (@SJD_51) July 23, 2021
Galatians 5:14 pic.twitter.com/k0et0Atpaz