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Why Charles James will represent autism Sunday

Charles James II is known for his passion for football, dancing, and fun-loving personality.

It's why he feels a special connection to children dealing with autism. James will be representing autistic children and their families Sunday during during the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats campaign.

"I have a close friend of mine, his little boy is autistic," James said. "He doesn't necessarily talk. He doesn't talk much at all. He'll hum and things like that but he's trying to express himself. Like if he sees something on TV, he's trying to express himself but it's not coming out."

Over the years, James has known several close friends and relatives with autistic children. Not knowing much about it at first, the Texans cornerback wanted to educate himself on the subject.

"Once I got to know more about it, I've got more of a heart for it," James said. " It's tough as it is to be a child and then be around kids and socially interactive and just be yourself is one thing. But then, to have a condition on top of it makes it even tougher. For me, I feel autism is probably something that's going to be a part of me forever."

NFL players will promote their cause by wearing customized cleats during the Week 13 games. James, who helped design his shoes with Darwin Itzep of Airbrush Brothers, wanted jigsaw puzzle pieces on his signature pair. Puzzle pieces are the symbol for autism awarness. He also incorporated his team colors from throughout his playing career: Mandarin High School's green and orange, Charleston Southern University's blue and gold, and the Texans signature red and blue.

"They came out perfect," James said Wednesday, when he saw the finished product for the first time.

To represent such an important cause will be special for James, who says he has already received a lot of tweets and positive feedback from families affected by autism.

"You want to be aware of things like that going on," James said. "Everybody has their cause and it's going to be great because I want to shine a light on something that I hope people are aware of, but if they're not, that's the reason why."

Players will also have the opportunity to raise funds for the cause of their choice by auctioning off their cleats at the NFL Auction, where 100% of funds raised will be donated. Like James, more than 500 players across the league will showcase their causes, including many of his Texans teammates. James plans to donate his cleats along with a pair of his socks from his collection, "Jiggy" socks, which have embroidered puzzle pieces. All proceeds will go to Austism Speaks.

Through the #MyCauseMyCleats campaign, Texans players helped design cleats for Week 13 which support the causes and organizations they care about.

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