Myles Garrett walked behind the podium in front of the Playhouse Square sign on Euclid Avenue, took another look at the mural of his grandmother and felt another wave of gratitude.
Garrett, two days removed from setting the Browns' single-game sack record Sunday against the Bears, was leaving another stamp on Cleveland. The mural was a picture of him as a child sitting next to his grandmother, Juanita Garrett, whom Garrett has always considered a shining figure in his life, and it was going to be seen in one of the top destination spots in Cleveland.
"This is a beautiful afternoon, and this is a beautiful view," Garrett said. "She was more than just a woman to me. She was a huge figure in my life, and she impacted me in everything that I did. I was just blessed that I was able to share this moment with my family and my friends and everyone that is here."
Garrett worked with Laurel Pearce, a local artist, to create the mural and provided Pearce with several photos of his grandmother, who passed away in 2014 and was one of the biggest motivators Garrett listened to as he pursued his football career. He allowed Pearce to choose whichever photo she believed would show his grandmother best.
So she picked one of the few photos provided that had both Garrett and his grandmother in it. The process of creating the final product took two weeks and was completed Tuesday morning.
"As much as the mural was celebrating her, it was also celebrating their relationship," Pearce said. "I really wanted to focus on that because I just think it added something more to it. It was cute and endearing, and that was the one that spoke to me."
Garrett said he nearly teared up when he saw the mural for the first time. He shared the joy with his family, who all looked up to his grandmother in a similar way as Garrett, and credited his grandmother for inspiring him to give back to Cleveland and use his platform to make a difference in the community. Garrett was honored in 2020 as the Browns' Walter Payton Man of the Year, which recognizes NFL players for their commitment to the community in addition to their on-field excellence.
"I'm just really honored to have her put up there," he said. "I know everybody won't understand the impact that she has on me, but the only reason why I'm able to give back to the city and play for the city is because she had that impact on me. I'm blessed to be here in front of y'all and be the person I am.
"(She taught me) to walk around and be respected for not only playing on Sundays and Mondays, but also just being a quality person and someone your family members can look up to. That means more to me than producing and getting sacks."
Garrett's mural was one of several steps he's taken to plant roots in Cleveland that extend beyond the football field. In April, he unveiled a "Cleveland is the Reason" mural outside the Cleveland Visitors Center on Euclid Avenue and helped piece together a painting that depicts Cleveland icons of sports, culture, and rock 'n' roll.
Garrett's mural process is part of the #VoicesofCLE art project, organized to help animate Downtown Cleveland spaces and storefronts, following the events of May 30, 2020. He said he's planning to create more murals in the future and continue to leave more footprints around a city he's embraced since the Browns drafted him first overall in the 2017 draft.
"I have some in the works," he said. "We're in the brainstorming process and have plans for more murals to go up later this year or early next year.
"I want to plant my roots deep here because this is going to be home for me for a long time, and hopefully forever. I'm always a part of this community and this city, and I want to live through this city."
DE Myles Garrett broke the franchise's single-game sack record by recording 4.5 sacks in the Browns' 26-6 Week 3 win over the Bears. Garrett leads the NFL with 5.5 sacks and is leading a Browns defense that has recorded 12 sacks, which is tied for third-most by a Browns team in the first three weeks of a season.