PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When he’s not making tackles for losses with the St. Louis Rams, you can find Aaron Donald back in Pittsburgh, on the Pitt campus, running a bar and lounge business he and his brother recently purchased.
It’s now called AD’s Pittsburgh Café.READ MORE: State Police In Kittanning Searching For Arson Suspect Following Reported Domestic Incident
“The funny thing is when I was a sophomore, this was a popular bar, and when I was legal, able to come into a bar, we used to come here a lot,” says Donald. “I always told people, I wanted to come back and buy this bar one day, but I was just talking. But now, I actually did it, so it was pretty cool.”
And he did it through the money he has made as a pro football player. It’s something not many people thought possible when he played at Penn Hills.
He was not a big recruit, only tree offers – Toledo, Akron and Pitt.
“In little league, I played my last championship, I played my last championship game before they knocked it down, Pitt stadium,” says Donald. “We won the championship there.”
KDKA’s Bob Pompeani: “Was there any doubt that you were going to go to Pitt, no matter what?
Donald: “It was my dream school.”
His dream became a nightmare for opposing offenses. In the ACC, in his final season at Pitt, Donald won every major award that a defensive lineman can win, including the Nagursky Trophy, the Bednarik Award, the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi award.
“Everybody talks about being great, but a lot of people don’t want to put the work in,” says Donald. “I’m one of those guys who likes to put the work in and watch it pay off.”
Still, a lot of NFL teams had doubts about Donald as a pro because of his size, only 6’1” and 280 pounds.
Donald: “Ain’t too much you can do about my size. I aint gonna grow too much taller.”
Pompeani: “But the size of the heart matters?”READ MORE: Pittsburgh Police Investigate Shooting On Same Night South Side Traffic Pattern Began
Donald: “Yes, the way you play out there. It’s a production league, it’s all about what you do on the football field.”
The Rams didn’t care about his size. They took him in the first round, 13th overall, even though defensive line wasn’t a need.
What they got was the NFL Rookie of the Year in 2014 with nine sacks and now a player who is regarded as one of the best in the NFL.
Donald: “Hard work pays off.”
Pompeani: “So, if there’s a slogan in the Donald family, that would be it??
Donald: “Yes, that’s it.”
That slogan and all of Donald’s accomplishments decorate the walls of his café as a reminder of what it took for Donald to get where he is today.
There are also autographed jerseys of all of the Panther greats, past and present.
A group that absolutely now includes him.
Pompeani: “So, I get the feeling, even though you don’t work here anymore, you play in St. Louis, you never want people to think you’re not a Pittsburgh guy.”
Donald: “I’m a Pittsburgh kid, born and raised. Even when I’m not here, I’m gonna be here. I love Pittsburgh.”MORE NEWS: No Injures Reported, Second Floor Of Penn Hills Home Destroyed In Fire