We often hear about all the bad things that athletes tend to do off the field or court, but what about the good things that athletes do? Here are 16 athletes that use their celebrity status for good and are very generous with their time and money.
1. J.J Watt started the Justin J. Watt Foundation, a charity that provides after-school opportunities for children in different communities and aims to get them involved in athletics in a safe environment. With the Texans, Watt has frequently invited disabled and underprivileged children to games and practices. And on Aug. 26 of this year, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year launched a fund on YouCaring.com to raise money for victims of Hurricane Harvey with an initial goal of $200,000. Watt closed the fundraiser after raising an astonishing $37,097,298, which is more than 185 times his initial goal.
2. Who doesn’t love David Beckham? Even with all of his fame and fortune, he is very humble. He is very giving when it comes to children and even supports many charities that do the same. In 2013, he gave £3.3million of his football wages to a children’s charity. He said it was his wife’s idea, but still!
3. Even with all of the bad publicity that the NFL has recently received, there are still good role models within its organization. Derrick Coleman played for the Seattle Seahawks. He starred in a Duracell commercial showcasing the fact that he is deaf and that did not stop him from achieving his dreams! He was able to achieve even more when his team won the Super Bowl in February 2014.
4. Eli Manning recently retired from the New York Giants. He is continuously raising money for children’s clinics in hospitals and has stated that giving back to the community is invigorating. He has helped raise more than $25 million for New York March for Babies (to fight premature birth), and his work with the Tackle Kids Cancer campaign has led to more than $1 million in fund-raising.
5. Recently LaMarr Woodley heard about a Michigan School District that was going to implement a $75.00/year fee for kids who wanted to play sports. This was the same school district that he lived in when growing up, and he graduated from Saginaw High School in 2003. He contacted the school district to see what the amount was that would be collected after collecting the fees. He decided to donate $60,000 to cover these fees so kids would not have to pay to play.
6. Anytime LeBron James does anything, it seems to be newsworthy. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like his good deeds get as much attention as does where is he going to be playing next year. A teenager girl named Ebony who lived outside Milwaukee wanted to meet LeBron James after she was diagnosed with cancer. There was a Twitter hashtag called “#LeBronMeetEbony” that caught on, and low and behold, LeBron took time out of his busy schedule to meet Ebony and her family.
In addition to this, he has raised over $3 million for Boys and Girls clubs across the country. He also established the widely successful LeBron James Family Foundation, which aims to positively affect the lives of children through education and co-curricular educational initiatives. In ’15, James’s foundation spent $41 million to send students from Akron to college for free
7. Abby Wambach of the US Women’s National Soccer Team has a lot of involvement with both the Juvenile Diabetes Association and the Epilepsy Foundation. She has been touched personally by both of these ailments. Her brother, Peter, has epilepsy and her brother, Andrew, and her nephew, Ben Ritter, both have Type 1 Diabetes.
8. We hear about the extravagant things that athletes purchase with their large paychecks, but has anyone ever thought of buying a firetruck for their hometown? That is exactly what Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers did. He purchased a firetruck for his hometown San Francisco de Macoris located in the Dominican Republic. They don’t have firetrucks or ambulances in his hometown, so this was a huge gift for them! His donation caught the eye of Texas first-responder service American Medical Response who also donated 2 ambulances to go along with the firetruck.
9. Pat Tillman was a professional football player. After the 9/11 attacks, he turned down a $9 million contract with the St. Louis Rams and decided to join the Army with one of his brothers. He was killed in the line of duty due to friendly fire, which was covered up for many years. Pat Tillman is an American Hero, leaving everything behind and putting it all on the line for his country.
10. Mia Hamm is a retired professional soccer player who played on the US Women’s National Soccer Team. She started the Mia Hamm Foundation in honor of her brother who passed away from bone marrow disease.
11. Payton Manning is also another Manning brother who does a lot for his community. He started the Peyback Foundation that helps disadvantaged children.
12. Pierre Thomas was a New Orleans Saints running back and is known for spoiling kids in the New Orleans area, but this past Christmas he went shopping and filled five separate shopping baskets to the top and then some, and donated them to Toys For Tots.
13. Steve Nash has played for the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers. He is a very humble player, but not only that he has started his own charity that aids children in need.
14. Robbie Rogers who played for the LA Galaxy, recently because the first active player to come out as gay. This has made him a huge role model for the LGBT community and youth.
15. Best Buddies is “the world’s largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD),” providing “friendship, jobs & leadership development,” according to its website. The charity credits Tom Brady with raising $46.5 million for Best Buddies since 2001.
16. Cristiano Ronaldo can come across as arrogant on the soccer pitch, but what he does off the pitch will have you falling in love. Recently a family approached Ronaldo about donating to their son’s cause. Their child was getting brain surgery and they were trying to raise some money to help with the surgery. They asked if he could donate a pair of cleats for a raffle. Not only did Ronaldo donate the cleats, he paid for the entire brain surgery which ended up costing $83,000! How could you not love him!
While the world is focusing on all the bad things that athletes get themselves into, there are still good role models out there for children when it comes to professional athletes.