Idolized by millions, professional athletes like Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick, David Ortiz “Big Papi,” Michael Bennet and many more often make headlines on the court and off the court. Nowadays, a growing number use their platforms to raise awareness and donate to charitable work around the world. Here are some of the big names in sports who are giving back in a major way.
NBA great and all-around good guy David Robinson was a legend in his era. But his work with the Carver Academy may be his greatest and most enduring legacy. Robinson and his wife Valerie founded the Carver Academy, an independent school based on Judeo-Christian principles, and gave $9 million toward its endowment. Robinson’s philanthropy continues to this day by serving on the boards of several foundations and charities. In 2018, Robinson received the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award from ESPN, the third major humanitarian award of his lifetime.
Lebron James is an NBA superstar but also a generous philanthropist who loves to give back to his hometown of Akron, Ohio. James was raised by a single parent and understands the importance of education. He’s passionate about providing educational opportunities for at-risk and low-income youth. Most notably, James opened a school called “I Promise” which currently houses 240 at-risk third and fourth-grade students in his hometown. The school, a project of the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, provides students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Students will receive:
- Free tuition
- Free uniforms
- Free breakfast, lunch, and snacks
- Free transportation within 2 miles
- A free bicycle and helmet
- Access to a food pantry for their family
- Guaranteed tuition for all graduates to the University of Akron
By 2022, he plans to expand the school and open it to grades 1-8. James has provided millions to this project and has proven that he is a role model both on and off the court.
NBA superstar, businessman and philanthropist Earvin “Magic” Johnson knows the importance of giving back. After being diagnosed with HIV in 1991, he founded the Magic Johnson Foundation to provide education, prevention, and research for those affected by AIDS. The foundation has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to build state-of-the-art clinics and provide grants to community-based organizations, especially those that focus on health initiatives for youth, women, and people of color. The foundation now awards scholarships, organizes mentoring and internship programs, as well as sponsoring job and health fairs. For nearly 20 years, Johnson has donated millions to charity and has earned the title of philanthropist.
African American athletes are changing the world through giving. With their celebrity status, their massive donations make a difference. During Black History Month, and every month, let’s give thanks to all who give, no matter how big or small.