Garett Bolles, a former resident of Cedar Valley and alumni of Westlake High School, has been chosen as the Denver Broncos’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

The announcement, made by the Broncos organization on Dec. 5, highlighted Bolles’ impactful work as a juvenile probation court mentor in Arapahoe County. The organization praised his unwavering commitment, noting that Bolles “has impacted hundreds of youth with this outreach, providing mentorship and developing a unique, in-person connection with each child.”

According to the official statement, Bolles consistently goes above and beyond by recording personalized videos of encouragement for the youth he mentors.

Additionally, he actively participates in monthly court hearings, demonstrating an extra layer of support for the young individuals under his guidance. Notably, Bolles took initiative to contribute to the community by assisting the Arapahoe County 18th Judicial Youth Probation Court in revamping a juvenile courtroom, aiming to create an inspiring environment for its young occupants.

“It means the world to me,” Bolles said of the nomination. “I do this because I genuinely love and care for these kids. I know they said that I help them, but they help me. They give me that fight every single day to go out there on the football field and to live my dream.”

Bolles’ commitment to at-risk youth is deeply rooted in his own life experiences. Confronted with challenges after encounters with law enforcement and a brief stint in jail for vandalism, Bolles faced adversity when he was kicked out of his father’s home at the age of 19.

During this time, Bolles found support in a Lehi family who welcomed him into their home and offered the encouragement and tough love he needed. With their support, Bolles secured employment, eventually earning an opportunity to play football at Snow College.

His journey continued when he met his wife, Natalie, during his time there and later transferred to the University of Utah to join the football team. Then, in 2017, Bolles was drafted by the Denver Broncos where he has played since.

Bolles, reflecting on his past, believes that his personal experiences uniquely qualify him to assist at-risk youth. In an interview with The Athletic, he said, “They have a guy who has gone through it, and I can communicate that to them. A lot of these kids, it’s hard for people to relate to them. Going through something like that and experiencing the heartache… I want them to know that I do love and care for them.”

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, an esteemed recognition for both on-field and off-field contributions, offers a substantial prize to the winner. The recipient will be granted a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice, with all nominees, including Bolles — receiving up to a $55,000 donation for their selected charitable cause.

In addition, each nominee will wear a helmet decal throughout the remainder of the season in acknowledgment of their outstanding accomplishments. The grand reveal of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner is scheduled to take place during the live NFL Honors ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2024.