During the hot summer months of July and August, athletes are typically working out, vacationing, spending time with family and in some cases paying attention to where LeBron James will take his talents next.
Between those summer chores, athletes use their influence, time and money to give back to communities that need their help. The Philippine national men’s basketball team, for example announced that the proceeds from ticket sales of their warm up games against NBA stars Blake Griffin, Damian Lillard, DeMar DeRozan and Paul Pierce on July 22 and 23 will go to the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation.
Earlier this year, Behind the Bench, the National Basketball Wives Association, not-for-profit organization recognized NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal and his mom Lucille O’Neal as well as Detroit Lions marquee receiver Calvin Johnson and his mother, Dr. Arica R. Johnson at their “Touching A Life” luncheon. The luncheon honored dynamic duos in the sports and entertainment fields that provide a positive impact in their community.
Shaq and his mom quietly have donated time and money to charitable causes like the Boys & Girls Club of America to create technology centers in Clubs nationwide as well as the Microsoft Corporation. Newark, NJ natives, they know where they come from and haven’t forgotten their roots. “Shaquille and I don’t do a lot of things to impress anybody,” Momma O’Neal told The Source. “We do what we do because we can do and because it comes from the heart and so many people have helped us along the way. We are obligated and want to be able to do something.”
A successful 19-year NBA vet, Shaquille O’Neal has won four NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. With all of the individual success that he’s garnered, he’s not forgotten where he came from and he gives back out of obligation. “Everything that we do in the community is about helping people,” Shaq told The Source. “We do a lot of things seen and unseen. We don’t like to brag about helping people.”
Although Calvin Johnson can run the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds and connect with Lions QB Matthew Stafford to nab a shade under 2,000 reception yards, the 4-time Pro Bowler is most proud of what he does in both the metro Atlanta and metro Detroit areas. Since 2008, Johnson’s Calvin Johnson, Jr. Foundation has awarded scholarships and book awards to 36 deserving student-athletes.
The foundation is dedicated to the education, training, and social development of at-risk youth, along with providing financial assistance to community organizations. “When I started doing it; it was kind of built in our culture to give back,” Johnson told The Source.
“The more and more you do it, the more and more you want to do it and the more impact that you see it has on the children and the lasting effect it has.”
The Calvin Johnson, Jr. Foundation does a lot. According to the foundation’s site, hundreds of youth have participated in free football camps with NFL Athletes and other professionals. Additionally, the organization has fed countless needy families in Atlanta and Detroit areas and the group holds toy drives sponsored by CJJRF that have supplied holiday gifts and personal care packages to over 200 homeless children and children of incarcerated women. Johnson’s mom, Arica R. Johnson is the Vice President and Co-Executive of the foundation. She enjoys that both her and her son can leave an imprint on society. “It’s very good because to whom much is given much is required,” Momma Johnson told The Source. “Being a Christian—and not saying that’s everyone’s belief—but with mine I feel like you have to do what God’s word says which is to give back and support others. In turn, you they do it for others.”
For more info on what the O’Neal’s and Johnson’s do in the community, visit Shaq.com and CalvinJohnsonJrFoundation.org. Also make sure to check out BehindTheBench.org for all things happening with National Basketball Wives Association.