By Andrea Nakano

RICHMOND (KPIX) — On Thursday afternoon during the NFL draft it took a little longer than he hoped but Najee Harris, the leading rusher in Bay Area preps history, finally had his NFL dreams come true.

For roughly three hours on Thursday, friends and family of Harris watching television at Rob Ben’s Restaurant & Lounge in Emeryville — owned by Marshawn Lynch — waited to hear Harris’ name called. The Antioch high school star was selected 24th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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“The wait, it was tough but I’m just glad it finally happened,” Harris said.

It’s a moment that was years in the making and the journey to the NFL wasn’t an easy one. Najee, his mother and four siblings lived in a tiny room at a homeless shelter in Richmond during his childhood.

“His mother was instrumental in getting him and all those children through what would normally be the most horrific experience of their lives,” said Kathleen Sullivan, executive director at the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program.

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On the same day he was drafted, Harris returned to his roots. He treated everyone currently at the shelter to a draft party full of food and and goodies. Those that know him say the running back who went on to play college ball at Alabama, always finds ways to give back to his community.

“I’ve been knowing him since he was a little boy. It couldn’t have happened to a better kid. He’s a warm loving person,” said Marvellus Lucas.

Now Harris moves on to the next chapter of his life with the Bay Area in his heart and kids just like him believing anything is possible.

“It gives me a lot of inspiration,” said Juan Cambros.

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Harris is also forming a non-profit and hopes to keep giving back to the community, including the shelter in Richmond where he spent part of his childhood.