Each week, I spend a couple of hours researching and mapping out what I want to write about in my weekly blog; who did what, who showed out, who showed up, who’s getting in trouble for the past week’s shenanigans, so on and so forth.  So this week, I started off with the notion to write about how it has become the norm for athletes who get in trouble to think that after they have broken the law, they are the “victim” because of their “star power”.  Now this was prompted after a friend wrote on his FB page that a former NFL QB’s name was slandered after his admitted drug addiction got him kicked off the team and eventually out of the NFL.  (D, you got to be freakin’ kidding me if you think this man’s name was slandered by his former team, after they released him because he had a drug problem…PLEASE).  Then after the recent week of hearing about how many professional athletes are using their powers for good, I realized that I can’t lump all athletes in the category of “ungrateful”.

For the last week, we’ve heard stories of sympathy and compassion for the devastation that rocked Haiti.  Each day the stories of survival and loss become more and more entrenched in our minds and hearts.  There are countless organizations doing their part to aid in this devastation, but one in particular that I applaud is “Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti” setup by retired NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning and Miami Heat’s Dwayne Wade.

Mourning and Wade started soliciting to fellow NBA and NFL players last Friday (1/15), and as of Monday (1/18) the relief fund has raised over $800,000.  Wade’s donation was a one-game salary, about $175,000, while Mourning, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul each pledged $100,000.  Other NBA players donating include…Al Horford, Anthony Parker, Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Ben Gordon, Mike Dunleavy, Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Quentin Richardson, Devin Harris, Michael Finley, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, Caron Butler and the suspended Gilbert Arenas. 

Mourning spent about 36 hours in Haiti last week, traveling with Miami-based Project Medishare, which has worked to bring health care to the nation for about 15 years. The retired All-Star worked at a makeshift hospital and assisted rescue workers and first responders in the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince get supplies like water, food and medical equipment.

“It is the most devastating, deplorable images I’ve ever seen in my life,” Mourning said Monday in Memphis, Tenn. “[An] inhumane atmosphere to where we can only pray and do the best we can to assist those individuals.”

Many of the donors so far have with played with or are close friends with Wade, who said last week he was trying to get word to every player in the league about the cause. Several other players, including Philadelphia’s Samuel Dalembert, are organizing fundraising efforts of their own, and NBA itself has pledged money for Haitian relief.

Cleveland Cavs Star LeBron James said, “Since first learning of the tragedy in Haiti, I was intent on finding a way to help.  I feel fortunate to be in such a position to provide support.  My heart and prayers continue to be with the people of Haiti.”

NFL players Michael Vick, Terrell Owens, Josh Cribbs, Wes Welker, Randy Moss Donte Stallworth and Clinton Portis also gave money, fund officials said.

It is so refreshing to see athletes stand up for a cause that is greater than themselves and doesn’t involve sex, drugs, violence, alcohol or strip clubs.  Over the last couple of years with the influx of athletes, both male and female, getting fined, suspended or even jailed for various antics, athletes have been depicted as ungrateful, spoiled, rich kids, whom have come from lower class families, only to enter the world of professional sports and forget where they came from.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Wade and Mourning are the only pro athletes doing anything for non-profits, there are many athletes who have non-profit organizations that are not just there for name sake or a tax break.  What I am saying is that this life of professional sports and the sense of stardom that these players have entered into is a life of privilege that less than 1% of the country’s population will ever be a part of.  When I look at how many have thrown their livelihood away, I shake my head and wonder why were YOU chosen?

I applaud all of the NBA and NFL players who have stepped up to show who they really are and offer themselves in a way that not many can. 

Your JGF,