We Have An Obligation To Our Community: Humble Sports Stars We Love
Money, money, money, money! Yes, we know sports stars get paid the big bucks. Their extreme talents pay off, whether hooping, golfing, boxing or cycling. But how awesome is it when we see these sports celebs give back to their community? It lets us know that they haven’t forgotten their roots – from where they used to play b-ball to the day-to-day struggle growing up in a household where making ends meet was a constant challenge. Whatever the case, these athletes desire to help others, and because they are in a position to help others, they feel the need to do so. Kudos to these sports stars for lending a helping hand.
Dwyane Wade said when he was 7 years old, if he ever became famous, the first thing he’d do is use his celebrity to give back to his old neighborhood in Chicago. In 2003, the same year he was drafted, he started the Wade’s World Foundation, which serves at-risk communities in Milwaukee, South Florida, and Chicago. Wade’s World promotes literacy, health and fatherhood through youth summer camps, academic scholarships, and community service programs. Wade was the winner of the 2013 BET Humanitarian Award, of which he was totally deserving.
Warrick Dunn grew up in a single family household, where his mom taught him all about love and helping others in need. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer has helped out over 100 single parent families by making a down payment on their home. His goal, with the Homes for the Holidays program, is to help other single parents provide what his mother— a police officer killed while working as a security guard to make extra money— was never able to provide: their very own home. For the past 15 years, Warrick Dunn Charities has provided programs and services for single parents who are committed to achieving stability for themselves and their children. In 2012, Warrick Dunn Charities expanded its service to include a mobile children’s bereavement program in Baton Rouge, La.
Not only did he float like a butterfly and sting like a bee, but he used his sport star status for the benefit of others. As President Barack Obama put it, “We admire the man who has never stopped using his celebrity for good — the man who helped secure the release of 14 American hostages from Iraq in 1990; who journeyed to South Africa upon Nelson Mandela’s release from prison; who has traveled to Afghanistan to help struggling schools as a United Nations Messenger of Peace; and who routinely visits sick children and children with disabilities around the world, giving them the pleasure of his presence and the inspiration of his example.” Muhammad Ali is the first, the original charitable athlete. And he’s been at it for 50 years now.
Although he is considered by some to be the dirtiest player in the NFL, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is also the most charitable player in the NFL. He gave the biggest donation of $2.6 million to his alma mater, the University of Nebraska, and their athletic department in 2010. This donation made him the most generous athlete in America, and the sixth-most generous celebrity of any kind.
In 2012, after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Carmelo’s childhood community of Red Hook and Coney Island were at the top of his mind. Anthony shared gifts with the families living there during the storm and helped those affected. Melo also serves his local community through his GiveBack program. In partnership with Feed The Children and local community agencies, the GiveBack program provides over 800 families in need with food and personal supplies during the holidays and times of natural disaster. In addition, he hosts an annual holiday program that rewards 250 deserving middle school students who strive to “Be More” in their family or community with the opportunity to hang out with Melo for a few hours at a local venue. The Be More attitude is defined as the determination to be more than the world around you dictates. And this year, kids can have fun while gaining b-ball instruction from Melo at Citi Camp.
Yes, Lance Armstrong is entangled in one of the biggest doping scandals in recent history, but he’s done some good too. Think signature yellow bands as an international symbol for cancor survivors. Armstrong started one of the most successful charitable foundations for cancer in recent memory. He gave speeches and got wealthy folk to donate money for cancer research, and Armstrong himself pledged to donate $5,000,000 over ten years back in 2008, putting his money where his mouth is. Although Nike dropped Livestrong due to the doping fiasco, officials at Livestrong said the foundation remains strong and committed to helping cancer patients worldwide through its survivorship programs.
Although new reports have surfaced claiming that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s kids’ charity is a sham, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, was given a new title recently when he was appointed as an American cultural ambassador by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Abdul-Jabbar will represent the United States abroad in an effort to engage young people to help promote democracy. The basketball legend told MSNBC that he accepted the position because “I would like to see that my country is portrayed in accurate fashion.”
Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson shocked the world in 1991 when he revealed that he had contracted the HIV virus. Since then, Johnson has raised millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS research through his Magic Johnson Foundation. Last year, when the ex-basketball player commemorated 20 years living with HIV, the foundation launched a year-wide effort to raise awareness, including setting up free HIV testing sites around the country.
The beautiful daughter of boxing great Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali has stepped out of her father’s shadow not just due to her own athletic prowess, but for her giving spirit. The female boxer, who boasts a 24-0 record and 21 knockouts, serves as the president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, an organization that encourages self-improvement in women and girls through sports and exercise.
Venus Williams, one half of tennis’s greatest sister act, has supported the Elton John AIDS Foundation and served as spokesperson of the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention’s VERB campaign, which was geared toward increasing physical fitness in children age 9 to 13.
Yes, yes, yes – he gives back to his community today! Dikembe Mutombo used to be known mostly for his trademark “no, no, no” finger wag after blocking shots, but now the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year is better known for his amazing dedication to charity. In 1997, he founded the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve the lives of people in his native Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 2001, he has donated at least $15 million dollars to build a hospital in his hometown of Kinshasa. Talk about acting selflessly!
Tennis great Andre Agassi didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth. His Armenian-Assyrian father was a bit of a taskmaster who once forced the 9-year-old tennis prodigy to play a match against football legend Jim Brown for $10,000 (later reduced to $500 after Agassi kicked butt the first two sets 6-3). He was a rebellious lad, too, whose tennis career almost ended before it began. Today, he wants to make sure other kids get the same second chances he got. So in 2001, in his home town of Las Vegas, Agassi founded a tuition-free charter school for at-risk youth called the Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy. Since 2007 alone Agassi has donated over $3,000,000.
When Serena Williams isn’t dominating the tennis court or running her fashion company, Aneres, she’s likely working with the Serena Williams Foundation, which helps children whose lives have been affected by violent crimes. The charity also aims to provide educational opportunities to underprivileged youth.
What was no doubt a struggle for him to come to terms with as a youth on into his career as an NFL star, Wade Davis set out to help others that perhaps shared his same experience coming out. EX-NFL player Wade Davis, who recently revealed his homosexuality, now works with the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City, which provides career counseling and job readiness workshops for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender at-risk youth. He wants LGBT youth to have resources to help get them on the right track. The cornerback formerly played with the Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks.
Tiger, Tiger Woods ya’ll! Yep, he’s definitely a cheater, with a list of mistresses longer than we care to know. But after you finish the eye roll for seeing him on this list, it should he noted that he truly does deserve his props for being so charitable. He donated $9.5 million in 2007 and another $1.35 million in 2008 to the Earl D. Woods Sr. Scholarship Fund and the Tiger Woods Learning Center, both of which help underserved kids get to college.