‘It's bigger than me’: How NFL star Camryn Bynum is uplifting Filipinos on and off the field [interview]


With the clock winding down and the tension in the stadium reaching a fever pitch on Monday night, it was clear that the high-stakes clash between the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings would be decided by a single, pivotal moment.

With just 33 seconds left on the clock, the crowd held its collective breath as 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy dropped back to make the throw that could change the game’s destiny. But soon after, Vikings defensive back Camryn Bynum swiftly slid through the football field with unwavering focus and lightning-quick reflexes as the ball soared through the air.

And then it happened — a spectacular catch! Bynum seized victory from the jaws of defeat after making a game-altering interception. As the U.S. Bank Stadium erupted in a deafening roar of triumph for the Vikings’ thrilling 22-17 victory, Bynum fell to the ground and celebrated the moment with the worm dance.

“Everytime we got the flag out, we gotta ball out,” Bynum said as he pointed to the Philippine flag on his football helmet .“Salamat sa inyong suporta, all my kababayans. [Thank you for your support, all my compatriots.]”

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Bynum, the 25-year-old proud Filipino American NFL star, has never shied away from bringing his Filipino pride to the field. Often with the Philippine flag draped over his shoulders, Bynum always mentions his love and gratefulness for his fellow Filipinos.

The football player was born to an African American father and a third-generation Filipino American mother, whose family traces its roots to Leyte in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines. Growing up with a mixed cultural background in Southern California, he emphasizes the advantage of his diverse upbringing, learning about various cultures and playing different sports.

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In the fourth grade, Bynum eventually fell in love with football and knew he wanted to become a professional player. “Ever since then, it's been my passion,” Bynum tells NextShark.

He would go on to become an impact player for the Golden Bears in 2017 before he was drafted by the Vikings in 2021. But it wasn’t until his first visit to the Philippines that he truly found his purpose and motivation in playing the sport.

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In June, Bynum and several of his family members traveled to the Philippines after Typhoon Megi pummeled through the nation two months earlier, killing over 200 residents and displacing over 300,000. In his first-ever visit to the country, he and his family focused on aiding the island of Leyte. Seeing the resilience and witnessing the heart of the Filipino people changed Bynum's mindset.

“Making something out of nothing and how grateful everybody is just really the heart of the Filipino,” Bynum says. “I think that shaped me as a person and as a player. When I'm on the field, I really have a bigger reason to play knowing that I can really change people's lives. My main motivation now is to bring everything back to the people and to help other people.”

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After participating in relief efforts and learning how typhoons are a frequent occurrence in the Philippines, Bynum decided it was essential to raise awareness and provide consistent support for affected communities. Earlier this year, the football player founded the Bynum Faith Foundation (BFF), a nonprofit organization committed to providing relief and community outreaches to struggling communities in the U.S. and in the Philippines.

Bynum's wife's church, New Life Church, in the Philippines, and their foundation, New Life Community Care Foundation, laid the framework for Bynum’s own philanthropic efforts. He explains that BFF's mission is not just to offer one-time assistance, but to adopt entire communities and help them recover and rebuild for the long term. He highlights assessing the ongoing needs of the communities they work with, ensuring that they receive support throughout the entire recovery process.

“It was my great grandma's hometown that got hit,” Bynum shares. “And that's where we were able to do our first outreach and that kind of hit home for me. So being able to see that and start the foundation meant a lot because now we're able to go back and really help put communities back on their feet.”

Besides uplifting Filipinos on the field and through outreach projects, Bynum has also committed himself to the mission to bring American football to the Philippines. During his past off-season visit, he discovered a small community of football fans in the Philippines, where most citizens do not play or follow the sport. Inspired by the community's dedication to the sport, he felt compelled to help them and use his platform to spread football to new parts of the world. Bynum has since established a football training camp that he calls “Camp Beezy.”

“It’s not big yet and it might be tough, but in the next few years, I think we can really make it blow up,” he says. “And now you see that flag football is going to the Olympics, so in my mind, I'm thinking, we have five years to train all of my friends out there in the Philippines, and we're gonna try and qualify for the Olympics on the flag football team.”

In the time he has spent teaching the sport in the East Asian nation, Bynum said he has seen a rapid growth of interest in football among young athletes, noting that some of his friends had formed teams and were even participating in international tournaments.

“I just want people to give it a try. Every single person that's tried it has ended up falling in love with it…So it's super inspiring to me. It helps me really change the way I look at football. It makes me more grateful to be playing in the NFL because I see how much it inspires them,” Bynum shares.

The 25-year-old has intentions to expand Camp Beezy by collaborating with local organizations and schools in the Philippines, with a focus on intramural teams within universities. “As soon as I get back, it's going to be even bigger,” he promises.

For the upcoming off-season, Bynum is organizing three football camps: the first camp will be in Cebu, the second in Manila and the third in Japan. His goal is to continue growing football's presence in the region, particularly focusing on different cities and islands to expand the sport's popularity. Alongside the football camps, his foundation also plans to incorporate outreach activities, utilizing the manpower and resources available during the camps to make a positive impact on the local communities.


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A post shared by Camryn Bynum (@cambeezy_24)

Throughout Bynum’s career in football and philanthropy, he emphasizes the importance of prioritizing his faith, keeping Jesus Christ in the center as his guiding force. Bynum also urges his supporters to embody the Filipino spirit of hard work and resilience, emphasizing the significance of determination in facing life’s challenges. He highlights the value of remaining grateful, whether one has a lot or a little, recognizing that everything is a blessing.

“Just know that when I'm on the field, it's bigger than me,” Bynum says. “There's a bigger purpose to all of this. I don't want any of this fame for myself. I want to give it all back to God and to other people.”

Watch NextShark’s full interview with Camryn Bynum below: