Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher connected immediately in 2006 as rookie defensive linemen with the Dallas Cowboys.
As roommates at the team hotel, the duo not only scratched and clawed their way onto the team's roster together, but they also found, as rookies, the first few months in the league just weren't as glamorous as advertised.
"It was rough," Bowen recalled. "We just got there and didn't know anybody – didn't have a car."
Even finding well-rounded meals was a challenge at times, but Hatcher said those experiences helped build his relationship with Bowen "from the ground up."
"We came in together, we kind of struggled out for a minute," Hatcher said. "We survived, you know, going to Walmart, eating Ramen Noodles and stuff like that."
The two remained very close friends, even after Bowen signed with the Washington Redskins in 2011. So it should come as no surprise that when Bowen and his wife, Tiffany, lost their infant son Skyler that same year, Hatcher was right by their side.
"It's very deep, man – just the experience he went through, just knowing what kind of guy he is, how he loves his family," Hatcher said of Bowen. "Bo is my brother, man, and it hurt my heart just to see him go through it."
That support continues to this day, as Hatcher – who on March 14 signed to join Bowen with the Redskins – will again be a headliner attendee at the Bowen's second-annual "Bowl-A-Thon" event May 2nd at Lucky Strike in Washington, D.C.
The event supports the Bowen's Skyler’s Gift Foundation, which raises funds to provide direct support to families who have lost an infant to prematurity.
"A lot of parents, we found out, they couldn't afford funeral services for their child that they just lost," Bowen said. "So we found a way to try to raise money and fund families to at least put their babies that they lost to rest."
Tickets are still available to the event, which can be purchased by clicking here. Attendees can purchase a general-admission pass or a single-bowling ticket, or can reserve an entire lane in which they can invite up eight people and have an NFL player assigned to their lane as a "captain."
Businesses can also support the cause by sponsoring a single or double lane.
Tiffany Bowen told Redskins.com that the inaugural Bowl-A-Thon last year was a great success, but hopes to at least double those figures this time around.
"We were about to help about 50 families just from the Bowl-a-Thon, and this year we want to be able to help 100 families," she said. "So we just want to grow, help more people, sustain the efforts of the foundation, get the word out about what we do, who we are and how people can help."
Tiffany Bowen said a bowling event is ideal for Skyler's Gift and its hard-hitting mission.
"I feel like you have to lighten it up, even though it's not a light topic," she said. "I don't want people to come and feel so depressed. I think a Bowl-a-Thon is something that everyone can do.
"It doesn't matter how good or bad we bowl," she added with a laugh.
Having the support of Bowen's current and former teammates like Hatcher – many of whom are already planning on attending this year's Bowl-A-Thon – is just the icing on the cake, Tiffany Bowen said.
"It means a lot, because obviously they care," she said. "They're really close, and it just shows that they are truly friends and not just teammates, not just co-workers, but they honestly do care about each other and each other's causes, and what each other goes through. So, it's important, and I know it means a lot to Stephen."
Those who cannot attend the event but would like to donate to the cause can also do so by clicking here.