LOS ANGELES — At the Holocaust Museum in Fairfax, Calif., in late October, Tremayne Anchrum stopped in front of a display about a family who had hidden several Jewish people in their own home during that time, to protect them from Nazi troops at great personal risk.
Anchrum studied their faces, then quietly and almost to himself, he marveled aloud at their effort and sacrifice. He wondered why he had never heard their names before, why he hadn’t had more lessons about them in history class. He was drawn to, and deeply moved by, the stories of the people who helped others.
That day, Anchrum visited the museum with a group of youth from the Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club, where he has been volunteering since arriving in the city as a seventh-round pick in 2020. He was still in a walking boot from a season-ending leg injury he suffered in his first NFL start at guard for the Rams in September. Anchrum limped slightly as he and the group toured the museum and heard from Holocaust survivor Eva Nathanson. Her life was saved when she was little more than a toddler by a family who pretended she was their daughter when Nazi soldiers came to take away her mother, father and older siblings.
“Doing the right thing is not always what’s (popular), but it really goes a long way,” Anchrum said after the tour. “The people we heard talk, they were saved by the kindness of one person (and they) wouldn’t be here today if those people didn’t exist. I think that it’s good that we encourage kids to see that it does matter (to) stand up for people and go out of your way to be a good citizen. Those impacts are felt way beyond their lives.”
Days earlier, Anchrum had approached Molly Higgins, the Rams’ director of community affairs, to ask if she could help him get a tour scheduled with the museum after Los Angeles experienced a spike in anti-Semitic activity.
By now, Higgins is used to Anchrum asking her these types of questions. He has brought similar ideas to her in the past, such as helping to facilitate weekly yoga and meditation sessions to residents at the Jenesse Center, a Los Angeles-based domestic abuse treatment and prevention facility where Anchrum also volunteers, and he’s worked frequently with Higgins and the Rams’ RISE and Cedars-Sinai charitable programming over the last three years.
“He just wants to help people,” Higgins said.
But Higgins has also grown accustomed to finding out about Anchrum’s service efforts through others because he certainly doesn’t broadcast them himself. Even including one media member on the tour of the Holocaust Museum was an outlier for Anchrum, who once told Higgins he prefers to “move in silence” and without fanfare in his charity work.
Most of Anchrum’s teammates don’t even know what he’s up to outside of work. Players get one day off per week during the NFL season. Anchrum uses his to serve his community — sometimes driving for hours to do so. He started helping out at the Jenesse Center this summer, for example, and would make the 100-mile round-trip from Irvine, Calif., during breaks in the practice schedule.
Higgins got a call from a staff member at the facility one day, raving about Anchrum — who hadn’t mentioned to anybody with the Rams that he was helping out.
“He drove to the team hotel in Newport Beach, Calif. to South L.A. to take a tour and spend a couple hours learning about (the center), and then made the drive back,” Higgins said. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ That’s next-level sort of stuff, you know? Fast-forward to (November), he called me and is like, ‘I have an idea I want to run by you … ‘”
Next thing Higgins knew, she was sitting on a video call led by Anchrum and with the Jenesse Center’s leadership board, brainstorming ideas about programming for the residents.
“I’m sitting there bursting with pride,” Higgins said. “Such an amazing young man (and) human being, (who is) motivated for all of the right reasons. The fact that he does, as he says, prefer to ‘move in silence’ — I’ll never forget him making that comment to me. I just respect it so much.”
When Anchrum was a rookie, he hadn’t been in Los Angeles for very long when he learned about the Hollywood Food Coalition, a locally run non-profit that serves thousands of meals to food-insecure Angelenos every night of the week and also runs an “exchange” program in which the volunteers accept, store and redistribute donated food (often from restaurants or stores that otherwise would have wasted it) to smaller non-profits in need. Anchrum didn’t know anybody at the food coalition, but in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was in its early stages and volunteers were desperately needed. So Anchrum, then 21 years old, just started showing up.
“I never thought he was a football player, like he never mentioned it,” said Erin Lovelace, who is the kitchen supervisor. “So easygoing, didn’t have an agenda. He was literally just there to help. When I found out he was a football player — I mean, you’d assume he would lead with that.
“He never mentioned that he was here playing for the Rams. … It was never part of our conversation, (and) I don’t think he thinks life is about that. Life is not about our career, life is about the people we serve and love and how we take care of the world. Every time I see him, that’s just always what he’s amplifying and exuding through his energy.”
At the Hollywood Food Coalition, Anchrum sorts and packs out huge loads of compost, serves food, picks up trash after patrons are done eating (often, Lovelace noted, collecting trash means doing so amid rodents and human waste as the areas where many in the unhoused/food-insecure population congregate do not have public bathrooms available).
More than two years of weekly work there went by before anybody with the Rams learned he was doing it — not even his coaches, teammates or the public relations staff were aware.
“That’s the first time I had heard about that, and I believe it,” said veteran right tackle Rob Havenstein, a team captain, his face lighting up with surprise when told earlier this month about Anchrum’s work with the food coalition. “That’s the type of guy he is. The fact that he didn’t tell anyone about it speaks highly to who he is, as well. He’s a selfless guy, just a super nice guy. That’s an awesome thing to hear.”
In fact, the first time many of Anchrum’s Rams colleagues learned about his efforts with the charitable organization was right before he made his first NFL start in Week 2. Some of Anchrum’s family members were in attendance from Georgia, but he also reserved a block of tickets for the people he serves with at the Hollywood Food Coalition.
After Anchrum’s injury early in that game, he couldn’t walk or even drive for a few weeks. As soon as he was mobile, though, he was back in the staff lineup and into the streets, sharing a kind word with strangers, picking up trash and carrying out compost, and offering a plate to whoever wanted one.
Anchrum simply quietly keeps showing up where he thinks he might be needed. If people are hungry, he tries to feed them. If they need shelter or support, he tries to give them just that.
It’s fitting that the nickname his teammates, friends and loved ones have given him is an unintentional description of who Anchrum is.
They call him “Tre”, but not pronounced “tray.” It’s pronounced “tree.”
“The more you see him, meet him, talk to him, he is a tree,” said Lovelace, with a warm laugh. “He’s giving. I read that book, ‘The Giving Tree’ to my son sometimes. He is always giving of himself. Even when he’s injured … (he is) this spirit that is always giving of himself, and nobody is ever a burden on him. He always makes the time.”
(Top photo of Tremayne Anchrum: Klutch Sports)