With the sports world taking a break during the time of social distancing, athletes and major organizations are doing anything but disappearing. Many have stepped up in massive ways to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. From Robert Kraft delivering millions of N95 masks to hospitals to Justin Verlander donating his MLB game checks to charity until the quarantine is lifted, these caring sports figures are making sure to do their part.
Mark Cuban Set The Stage For Owners
Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, set the stage early by promising to pay gameday staff in full for the final six home games of the NBA’s regular season. His good deeds didn’t end there, though.
Cuban offered employee reimbursements on meals, while the Mavs Foundation pledged $100,000 to charity. Team CEO Cynt Marshall said, “Whether it’s by giving time or helping with funds we are ready to make a difference in the lives of our fellow community members. We’re all in this together!”
Trevor Lawrence Almost Got His Efforts Stopped
Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence found himself in hot water with the NCAA after creating a GoFundMe page to help raise money to donate to COVID-19 relief efforts. According to the organization’s rule book, student-athletes are not allowed to raise funds.
Shortly after news broke that Lawrence had to take down his fundraising page, it was revealed that Clemson pre-emptively asked him to take it down fearing he was violating the rules. Lawrence then revealed the NCAA granted him a waiver and started a new fund that has raised thousands of dollars.
Justin Verlander Is Donating His Salary While MLB Is Suspended
When Justin Verlander decided to take action, he teamed up with wife Kate Upton to create an Instagram video and pledge his upcoming game checks to the cause:
“I just found out that the MLB is going to be providing us a paycheck for the next couple of months. Obviously, this is an extremely difficult time for the entire world. We have decided to donate that paycheck. We’re going to pick an organization every week who’s doing really good work right now and donate the entire week’s paycheck to that organization.”
Falcons Owner Arthur Blank Spared No Expense
Arthur Blank owns both the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL and Atlanta United of MLS. After facilities were shut down, he pledged to continue paying hourly wages to employees. He then donated $5.4 million in funding for relief efforts in Montana and Georgia.
Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan also stepped up the plate and put his paycheck where his heart is, pledging $100,000 to help people impacted by the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Jim Irsay Put Up $1 Million… With A Catch
Colts owner Jim Irsay was ready to pledge $1 million but wanted to make sure anyone else who could donate as well did. He said he would only donate the money if fans raised another $200,000 for local food banks.
When the fans came through and raised over $300,000, Irsay stayed true to his word, writing, “I am so proud of our community and so proud to call Indianapolis home because Hoosiers come together. Whether in time of celebration or in times of great need, today is no different.”
Jared Goff Teamed Up With His O-Line To Provide Meals
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff and offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth both donated $250,000 to the Los Angeles Food Bank. The money was enough to help fund two million meals for local citizens in need.
Goff said in a statement, “There are so many people in need right now and we want to do everything we can to help our Los Angeles community. My hope is that we can inspire others to support organizations like the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and United Way’s Pandemic Relief Fund as we come together to face this crisis.”
Marcus Smart Is Giving Blood
One of the first athletes to be diagnosed with COVID-19 was Marcus Smart. Now that he’s recovered he is giving something more important than money. He is donating his plasma.
The plasma will be used for experimental treatments to help those currently in the hospital with the disease. The idea is because his plasma contains antibodies, it can be used to help those with immune systems still making their own. The procedure is reportedly very easy and can be performed on survivors like Smart multiple times a week.
Kevin Love Showed How Selfless He Is
Shortly after the NBA suspended its season, Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love pledged $100,000 to help support the workers for the team. The move came before Mark Cuban’s pledge and may have inspired the billionaire owner in the process.
Love, who suffers from anxiety, wrote, “I’m concerned about the level of anxiety that everyone is feeling and that is why I’m committing $100,000 through the @KevinLoveFund in support of the @Cavs arena and support staff that had a sudden life shift due to the suspension of the NBA season.”
Robert Kraft Is Using His Plane To Deliver Supplies
When Massachusetts needed a way to transport N95 masks from China to the United States, New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft offered up one of his team jets — a Boeing 767.
A video surfaced showing Chinese workers loading boxes of N95 masks into the plane before it departed for America. In total, Kraft helped bring 1.2 million N95 masks to Boston. The masks serve as vital protection for hospital workers taking care of patients suffering from COVID-19.
Zion Williamson Made Sure Arena Employees Still Got Paid
Rookie NBA Superstar Zion Williamson took a lesson from his mother when he decided to pay the wages of the employees who work for Smoothie King Center. He wrote on Instagram:
“My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have, and so today I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days.”
J.J. Watt And Kealia Ohai Gave $350,000 To The Houston Food Bank
After J.J. Watt raised millions of dollars to help fund Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, it came as no surprise that he and Kealia Ohai (his wife) would step up in another crisis.
As the nation shut down, Ohai and Watt put their money where their mouths are and donated $350,000 to the Houston Food Bank. ESPN reporter Adam Schefter revealed on Twitter than the generous donation would help provide more than one million meals in the Houston area.
Russell Wilson And Ciara Donated One Million Meals To Seattle
Seattle Washington has been one of the places hit hardest by COVID-19, leading many citizens to lose their jobs and wonder where their next meals would come from. Hoping to make life a little easier, Russell Wilson and Ciara donated one million meals.
“The world needs us ALL. These are unprecedented times,” they wrote. “We are supporting our community in Seattle by donating 1 million meals with Seattle @FoodLifeLine. Rally with us and support your local food bank @FeedingAmerica We can all make a difference together. Let’s all keep the Faith during this difficult time.”
Drew Brees Gave Louisiana $5 Million
Louisiana icon and New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees reached deep into his bank account to generously donate $5 million to the state. The large sum of money will be used for a variety of relief efforts.
In a statement to the press, Brees wrote, “Brittany and I are committing $5 million to the state of Louisiana in 2020. The priority now is helping our communities get through this tough time.”
The Milwaukee Bucks Matched Player Contributions
Inspired by a $100,000 donation by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks announced they would match all player donations to help the staff of the Fiserv Forum while no basketball was being played.
To date, at least one other player has pledged $100,000, leading to a total donation by players and the organization of $400,000. That kind of relief is a huge help to staff in keeping a roof over their heads and food in their kitchens.
The Warriors Created A Community Fund
While some teams made sure to take care of their own employees, the Golden State Warriors made sure to take care of the entire Bay Area community and created a fund for relief efforts:
“In an effort to assist those impacted by the NBA’s unforeseen suspension in play, the Warriors ownership, players, and coaches have pledged to donate $1 million to a disaster relief fund established by the Warriors Community Foundation.”
MLB And Its Players Union Made A Joint Donation
On March 16, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Union announced a joint donation of $1 million. The money was given to Meals on Wheels America and Feeding America. Their statement read:
“[MLB nad MLBPA] today announced a joint donation of $1 million to help fight hunger as a result of school closures and quarantines stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The donation will be split evenly among Feeding America and Meals on Wheels America.”
Steven Matz Gave To First Responders
New York Mets’ pitcher Steven Matz expanded his TRU32 charity to include hospital workers and first responders on the front lines. He made an initial donation of $32,000 to help, saying:
“Taylor [Matz’s wife] and I continue to be inspired by the countless selfless acts of our first responders, doctors, nurses, & medical staff in the war against COVID-19. Thank you for your bravery and dedication serving our community & your patients!”
Freddie Freeman Shared His Wealth With Several Organizations
Atlanta Braves’ first baseman and franchise star Freddie Freeman knew he had a responsibility to help and gave money to several organizations. Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that he split $100,000 between the Giving Kitchen and the Atlanta Food Bank.
The Giving Kitchen is a program that works to provide emergency assistance to food service employees. He also donated $25,000 more to the Salvation Army, bringing his total donation to $125,000.
The Arizona Cardinals Stepped Up To Feed The Hungry
Teaming up with State Farm, the Arizona Cardinals announced on April 7th that they were donating one million meals to local food banks during the pandemic. Announcing the move, the team said that the number of people asking for food has doubled in recent days.
Before making this donation, the team gave another $1 million to the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fun. The team also helped organize multiple blood drives to help alleviate shortages in the area.
The NFL Draft Has Been Turned Into A Three-Day Relief Fundraiser
On April 8th, the NFL officially announced that the Draft, scheduled to be held from April 23-25, would also be a three-day corona relief fundraiser, “benefitting six charities – selected by the NFL Foundation – that are battling the spread of COVID-19 and delivering relief to millions in need.”
The funds raised during this multi-day event will be added to the already donated $43 million by the “NFL Family” of teams, owners, and players.