Through the years, the NBA has slowly transformed into a special platform that transcends a global game. Usually known for their exploits on the court, NBA players have gone forth and beyond in their contributions off-court.
These larger-than-life personalities champion bridging chance and awareness in their respective communities.
Here are some NBA players who have contributed more than basketball.
Former Cavalier superstar LeBron James will be remembered as one of the best players to ever grace the court. From MVPs to championships, his career is definitely one for the Hall of Fame. However, people forget the LeBron James’ off-court legacy in his hometown of Akron, Ohio has reached near Hall of Fame status as well.
Struggling with poverty and hardship as a child, James is a known advocate for educating children. The latest milestone to his legacy is his I Promise School. This public school aims to serve at-risk children in James’ hometown.
If they qualify along the way, free college tuition at the University of Akron has been promised. It also aims to help parents earn their diplomas or continue their education.
The Congolese Raptor forward has established himself from defensive ace to one of the premier two-way big men in the league. Having gone through hard times as a kid, his NBA success is a testament to his determination and perseverance. His vision is to encourage the youth that anything is impossible.
Not the one to forget his African roots, his organization alongside NBA Cares and UNICEF has provided and promoted education, health, and education for the youth.
As part of the National Basketball Players Association Foundation, he uses basketball as a tool to celebrate Congolese culture.
Dieng usually has his performances under the radar, not too flashy, simple, but efficient. You could say he plays almost unnoticeably. Although not yet a bonafide basketball household name, his name has not gone unnoticed in the community especially in his native country of Senegal.
In one of his visits back home in Kebeber, Senegal he stopped by the hospital he was born in. However, nothing could prepare him for he had witnessed.
Surprised and mortified, he was set aback by the medical conditions and facilities the hospital had to offer. Patients, even the pregnant ones were without a bed. Therefore, everyone was treated on the floor. Dieng started his foundation that supplies medical supplies to Senegal. His initiative has led to beds, improved medical facilities, dialysis clinics, and neonatal care units for the hospital.
Moreover, he went the extra mile by purchasing 100 hectares of land in Senegal for farming. He understood the value of farming in Africa and felt the need to educate the locals in proper farming methods.
It is no secret that Pau Gasol wanted to be a doctor. We might have lost this future basketball Hall of Famer to the medical world if his career did not turn out too well in the NBA.
Regardless, basketball has been a bridge for Gasol’s advocacies centering on health and wellness. He has partnered with UNICEF and children’s hospitals on numerous occasions.
His foundation is centered on children’s health with the goal or reducing childhood obesity over the world.
Sadly, racism is not only prevalent in the league, but in the whole world. The first Swiss player in the NBA, Thabo Sefolosha had to experience it first-hand.
A victim of police brutality, he suffered a fractured right tibia from a wrongful arrest at the hands of New York police officers outside a nightclub in 2015.
He won a $4 million settlement from the New York Police Department, which he donated most to an organization called Gideon’s Promise. They are a public defenders organization that represents people living in poverty with their legal cases.
Sefolosha made some contributions in his father’s country of South Africa, creating after-school programs to further the education of children.