The 2013-2014 NBA season kicked off last week with most spectator’s eyes focused on the court. Washington Wizards star, John Wall, proved that he is an essential component to Washington DC both on and off the court. The day after Wall signed a 5 year $80 million dollar contract, the third largest in franchise history, he made a pledge to give back to the city he now calls home. “It’s a humbling experience and great opportunity to sign this contract, but it’s not about just for me,” Wall said. “The main thing is giving back and giving back the right way. Giving back to these charities is a great opportunity.” Through making a $1 million dollar donation to local DC charities, Wall is embracing his surrounding community and coming closer to being one of Washington DC’s beloved sports stars.
Wall’s donation will support Ted Leonsis’s Monumental Sports and Entertainment Foundation. The Foundation focuses on five “pillars” in the DC community including: education and scholarship, hunger and homelessness, military and veterans’ affairs, pediatric health and fitness, and youth basketball and hockey. Wall stated that he will personally hand pick the charities that align with his beliefs and are most important to him. Besides from financially supporting these charities, he also plans on donating his time as well. “I want to donate my time along with the money,” Wall said. “My whole thing is I was put on this earth to be something, and I was blessed to be a great basketball player, but my main thing was to keep striving to be a better person. That’s one thing my mom always instilled in me, it doesn’t matter what nobody thinks about you as a basketball player, they are going to look at you as a person first.”
Wall is not the first NBA player to give back to his community, and will certainly not be the last. Players have supported philanthropies for years dating back to David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo. David Robinson, who played for the San Antonio Spurs, donated $5 million dollars to fund a college prep academy in a low socioeconomic neighborhood in San Antonio. In addition to that, he and his wife have also donated over $11 million dollars to The Carver Academy, a non-profit private school serving “a socio-economically and culturally diverse student population, grades pre-k through sixth.” Dikembe Mutombo, a retired NBA center, has since been recognized for his philanthropic and humanitarian work, by funding the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in 1997. In addition, he has also donated over $15 million dollars since 2001, to build a hospital in his home town of Kinshasa. Current superstar players such as Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James also follow suit and have made substantial donations to charities as well. Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knick’s forward, founded the Carmelo Anthony Foundation. He has been recognized eighth in the 2006 “Giving Back 30” report, which is a compiled list of the top 30 celebrity philanthropists in America. Lebron James, NBA superstar, and current forward for the Miami Heat, uses his stardom off the court by supporting multiple charities including the Boys and Girls Club, which he has donated over $2 million dollars to.
The players listed above are just a few NBA players to make a difference both on and off the court and should be highlighted more frequently for these efforts. These players have donated their time and money to charities to make a difference in individual’s lives, along with making a positive change in the world, leaving behind a legacy much greater than just being an athlete. As John Wall stated, it is important to continually strive to be a better person first, and an athlete second.