KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Demetrius 'Rudy' Liggins received the honor of a lifetime at Sunday's AFC Championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans.
Liggins is one of the original 10 staff members at the Children's Place, a Kansas City, Missouri, based early childhood education center for children who have survived abuse, neglect and trauma.
Liggins started teaching in June 1978 after his job as a basketball coach at Texas Tech University was eliminated.
He had plans to continue a career in professional basketball after working at the Children's Place.
"I honestly wasn't planning on being here long," Liggins said. "I was going to go overseas and play basketball, but there was something about these kids that just kind of tugged at me."
More than 40 years later, Liggins is preparing to retire – but not before being honored for his commitment to the community.
Children's Place CEO Ann Thomas said the Children's Place has developed a strong relationship with the Chiefs over the past few years. Thomas received a call the week before the AFC Championship about the NFL wanting to honor Liggins for his work.
She told him he was invited to the AFC game but did not mention he'd be leaving with tickets to the Super Bowl.
Before the game, Clark Hunt and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell surprised Liggins with the tickets.
"I was so excited," Liggins said. "I went, 'You've got to be kidding me,' at least four times. That's all I could say."
Liggins watched the game from Goodell's suite with a friend.
"He made sure that we were always comfortable," said Liggins, who will take his son to the Super Bowl.
This article will be updated. Tune into 41 Action News at 4 p.m. for the full story.