Athletes can sometimes get a bad rap. Fans and the media get upset that they make too much money, or don’t play hard enough, or get hurt too often.
It is easy to forget pros spend a good amount of time using their money and fame as a force for good, so each week Extra Mustard will be rounding up some of the stories of sports stars changing people's lives for the better.
Russell Westbrook’s Reading Room
Thunder star Russell Westbrook’s Why Not Foundation is one of the most active player charities and he expanded his outreach even further recently by opening his seventh Russell’s Reading Room in Oklahoma City. The guard told The Daily Oklahoman the rooms aim to inspire literacy among kids.
"I want to be able to show them it's OK to pick whatever book that you like, go home and read it," Westbrook said. "I'm trying to find ways to make sure they want to pick a book that they like."
NASCAR’s Denny Hamlin raises $200,000 for charity with Pro-Am Jam
The fourth annual Denny Hamlin Foundation Pro-Am Jam was held in October, but this week the charity announced the golf outing and concert brought in $200,000 for South Carolina charities. Part of the proceeds were donated to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, the site of the racially motivated shooting last June that claimed the lives of nine congregation members.
LeBron James Inspired by Leah Still’s Fight With Cancer
The Cavaliers beat the Wizards 121–115 on Jan. 6, and LeBron James's 34-point outburst was fueled in part by a special visitor at the event: Leah Still. After the win James told reporters he was inspired by seeing Still courtside (her nueroblastoma has been in remission since late last year).
”Just her strength and her courage and what she's been through over the last few years, man, it's uplifting to all of us, and it's always great seeing her, for sure.”
NCAA Coaches Launch Infiniti Coaches’ Charity Challenge
This week marked the beginning of the Coaches’ Charity Challenge, which will run through the end of the college basketball regular season. Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite of the 48 participating coaches, including SMU’s Larry Brown, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim and UNC’s Roy Williams in the tournament style event, with the winning coach receiving $100,000 for his charity of choice.
Chris Paul Brings New Computers To Portland
Chris Paul and the Clippers traveled to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers, and while he was in town the point guard, along with his sponsors State Farm and Jordan Brand, stopped by a local school to donate new computers and smart boards, and talk to the students at Adler Elementary, a school that is part of that state’s “I Have a Dream” program to improve education for the underprivileged.
“I think about me growing up, there may have been some kids in my hometown who were better than me in basketball,” Paul said. “The difference in what I did is I went to school. I got an education. That’s part of the process. There’s a lot of people who think it’s all basketball-driven, but you have to go to school and give yourself an opportunity to be seen to go to the next level.”