JJ Barea focused on relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Coordinating five trips to the territory where he was born and raised, JJ used the Mavericks’ team plane, with help from Mark Cuban, to personally deliver much-needed supplies in the days after the hurricane. JJ also launched a fundraiser on YouCaring.com for families affected by the hurricane that has raised more than $250,000, he also personally raised nearly $500,000 and he worked with the Mavericks to donate 100 percent of all single-game ticket sales from their Oct. 25 game to Puerto Rico, generating an additional $114,000.
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies
As a Hoops for St. Jude ambassador, Mike Conley was involved with the organization in many ways. Mike surprised patients during a Shoe Design Party, where patients designed Nike shoes to represent the Grizzlies and St. Jude. Mike and his teammates autographed the shoes and sneakers were auctioned during the Grizzlies Hoops for St. Jude Week game March 17th. To further support St. Jude, Mike extended the Hoops for St. Jude week for an entire month and Mike tipped off this season’s “Grizz assists for St. Jude” campaign with a generous pledge of $15 for every Grizzlies assist during this that period. Additionally, this past month, Mike also congratulated 4,000 students in arena who completed the Read to Achieve challenge and participated in a team signing day alongside active service men and women.
DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans Pelicans
During the off-season, DeMarcus Cousins hosted hundreds of children for free basketball camps and neighborhood block parties in Sacramento, CA and Birmingham, AL. In New Orleans, DeMarcus has made an impact in his community, providing holiday dinners and shopping sprees for local families in need and helping to bring out over 7,000 underprivileged youth to games. During NBA All-Star, DeMarcus participated in a community conversation, focused on strengthening the ties between law enforcement and the local youth.
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
In January, it was announced that Kevin Durant was donating $3 million to UT to support Texas Basketball and the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation. Kevin also became the first of ten celebrities to match Colin Kaepernick’s donation as part of a 10-day initiative in which he donated $10,000 a day to a different non-profit organization and Kevin matched Kaepernick’s $10,000 for a total $20,000 donation to the Bay Area organization De-Bug. Additionally, on January 24, Kevin granted three wishes, hosting young men from New York, Hawaii and Philadelphia for practice, a game and special meet and greet experiences.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
In addition to the year-round support, learning opportunities and incentives that LeBron James and the LeBron James Family Foundation provide for his more than 1,200 I PROMISE students, LeBron and his Foundation also engaged his kids and their families in holiday-inspired experiences. A highlight of the month included the Foundation’s generous surprise for families of future I Promise School students to provide the life-changing gift of free and convenient access to healthcare and other medical resources through a new partnership with Crystal Clinic. Taking all the interventions, incentives, and pillars of the Foundation’s I Promise Program and infusing it with Akron Public Schools curriculum and a “We Are Family” philosophy, LeBron, the Foundation and APS are creating the I Promise School, opening in Fall 2018.
CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
This February, CJ McCollum continued his annual tradition of mentoring area high school students through his CJ’s Press Pass Program. CJ’s Press Pass serves students from the Portland Public Schools System, Beaverton Public Schools System, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro who have an interest in learning more about the field of journalism. This year, 17 students participated in the “Journalism Night at the Blazers Game” event and each student was given an assignment– to produce an original piece that reflects their game night experience and the winning submission will be featured on one of CJ’s local radio shows.
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks
This March, Jabari Parker welcomed over 300 Milwaukee Public School students to home games, providing both transportation and food for the students, in support of his “Attendance All-Star” program which supports the 77,000 students in MPS. Additionally, to incentivize students to attend class, Jabari hosted 120 MPS students for a private screening of Black Panther. This is the fourth year that Jabari has been the face of the MPS Attendance Campaign and to support the campaign, Jabari has been dedicating time to host an attendance summit, engaging over 200 MPS families to learn more about the struggles parents are facing.
Ricky Rubio, Utah Jazz
Due to his mother’s last wish to have him try and make things easier for people dealing with cancer, Ricky Rubio became an ambassador for 5 For The Fight, a charity based in Utah that raises funds to accelerate the pace of innovative cancer research. Ricky visited the Huntsman Cancer Institute to lift the spirits of patients battling cancer and to meet with surgeons to learn more about lung cancer treatments and what advancements are being made to combat the disease. As part of the Lung Cancer Awareness Night, Ricky donated 500 tickets and t-shirts to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Special Olympics and hosted a meet and greet with families affected by cancer after the game.
Dwyane Wade, Miami HEAT
In the wake of the Parkland shootings, Dwyane Wade made incredible efforts to support several victims’ families and reform existing gun laws. When Dwyane heard that the Oliver family buried their son in his HEAT jersey, he dedicated the remainder of his season to Joaquin. After returning from a road trip, he surprised Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students on their first day back at school following the tragedy. To help create sustained change, Dwyane hosted a free art gallery in Wynwood’s Art Walk and called it “Parkland 17” which featured a “Ring Your Rep” phone booth for people to voice their thoughts on gun control by calling their congressman/congresswoman. Dwyane also made a $200,000 donation supporting the student-led March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets
Kemba Walker partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolinas to launch his first community programming – mentoring four young people in hopes of being present for major milestones including birthdays, holidays, celebrations and accomplishments, and academics. During the summer, Kemba hosted a bowling night, a private movie screening, a basketball camp and a back to school supply shopping spree for his four mentees. Separately, Kemba hosted five youth basketballs clinics in New York and Charlotte – including one at Rikers Island with incarcerated youth attending the East River Academy.