By Rachel Holt

BOSTON (CBS) – Rob Gronkowski and the Gronk Nation Youth Foundation are donating $1.2 million towards a full renovation of the Charlesbank Playground, located along the Esplanade.

“It’s the perfect location because it’s where the duck boats come in and out of the Charles River, and you know I love duck boats,” said Gronkowski.

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Governor Charlie Baker was on hand to accept the donation, along with representatives from the Esplanade Association.

“Rob Gronkowski is a lot of things but I think the thing that gets lost sometimes amidst all the other things that everyone thinks and knows about him is he’s a big man with a big heart,” Baker said. “And time and time again during his time in Boston he would take time out of his day to visit hospitals, schools, almost any place you could find kids.”

Rob Gronkowski presents a $1.2 million check from his foundation to renovate a playground on the Esplanade (WBZ-TV)

During the check presentation, Gronk gave a shoutout to his former team, saying, “The Patriots taught me the importance of giving back the very first day I stepped in that organization so a huge shoutout to Mr. Kraft and the Patriots for installing that into me and showing me the importance of what it’s like to give back, and they’re still doing a great job to this day.”

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Although he’s now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, it’s clear his sense of humor and love of New England hasn’t gone anywhere.

“Most importantly I want to thank the incredible fans of New England. I’m humbled and honored to have the opportunity to be part of this amazing community and give back in this way for generations to come,” said Gronkowski.

Gronk will be involved in the design process of the playground, which will include more accessible and modern equipment. The donated money will be put towards demolition of the current playground, along with the design, materials, and labor associated with the new one.

“It’s going to be spanking brand new, very, very soon and thank you to all the kids out there who support myself also and watch the game of football and everything every Sunday. This is just a little way to give back,” said Gronkowski.

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If legislation gets passed, the new name will be Gronk Playground and the plan is for it to be unveiled sometime in 2022.

Rachel Holt