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Life's a Beach: Number one picks don't always buy cars

The 2020 NBA draft began on Wednesday, Nov. 18 and signaled the start to a new season. This year’s draft was the 74th annual and featured prospects from all over the world. Hundreds of prospects dream of being the number one pick and securing a multi-year contract, however, there can only be one. 

Each year, the media asks the new signees what they plan to do with their newfound funds. Material goods are often suggested but aren’t always the case. Several number one picks have gone on to establish non-profit organizations and pride themselves on contributing to charity. 

In the past 25 years, five number one picks have stood out for the impact their charities have had on the communities around them.

Tim Duncan: San Antonio Spurs, 1997

Started in 2001, the Tim Duncan Foundation aims to serve Duncan’s home territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands, his college town of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and his career home of San Antonio. In it’s early years, the foundation donated $25,000 to the island of St. Croix to build it’s first wooden basketball court. 

Duncan also donated $247,000 through the foundation to help fund the San Antonio 1000 Cancer Genome Project, which works on discovering new anticancer drugs. Most recently, the foundation teamed up with Spurs Give to donate a collective $200,000 to the San Antonio Food Bank for COVID-19 relief. Together the two charities were able to serve 25,000 meals to low-income families in need of food assistance.  

LeBron James: Cleveland Cavaliers, 2003

The LeBron James Family Foundation was founded in 2004 to give back to LeBron’s hometown of Akron. The foundation’s first event, Bike-a-thon, would open many doors for future events within the city. In 2011, the foundation focused it’s purpose on the I PROMISE initiative. Each year, the initiative selects a new third grade class from an Akron public school and provide resources, academic aid and emotional support. James later announced the I PROMISE scholarship in 2015 for college-age students. 

The I PROMISE program has experienced astronomical growth since it’s start, and now includes the I PROMISE School, I PROMISE Village and the University of Akron I PROMISE Institute. 

The LeBron James Family Foundation has also given back to James’ alma matter, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. The foundation funded a renovation of the gym LeBron once played in, now renamed in his honor. 

Dwight Howard: Orlando Magic, 2004

Howard established the Dwight D. Howard Foundation in 2004 as a way to provide scholarships and opportunities for youth who wanted to attend his alma mater, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. The foundation has also donated to several schools in Orlando, and has organized basketball camps with college players, coaches and NBA staff. 

This would not be Howard’s last initiative in education. In 2011, Dwight Howard established the D12 Foundation with a mission of making an impact on children’s lives. They support education, leadership and generosity through promoting health and physical activity in youth of all ages. Howard’s charitable work has earned him a spot as a finalist for the Jefferson Awards for Public Service in 2010.

Derrick Rose: Chicago Bulls, 2008

The D-Rose Foundation focuses on providing human development services through education and various counseling services, as well as childhood development and protection. They provide shelter, education, food and care to underprivileged children throughout the world. The foundation is currently serving families in James Town, British Accra which is struggling to deal with high unemployment. 

Outside of his foundation, Rose launched The Rose Scholars program in 2018. This program provides up to $200,000 in scholarships to economically-disadvantaged students.  

John Wall: Washington Wizards, 2010

The John Wall Family Foundation aims to serve disadvantaged families and to help at-risk youth through education, mentorship and physical activity. The foundation has held annual Back to School Field Days at schools in Washington D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina, and has donated 500 backpacks filled with school supplies to the schools. 

Another initiative of the program is the John Wall Foundation Thanksgiving Day Assist, which provides Thanksgiving day meals to those in need. Wall has partnered with several local charities for his initiatives in order to give back to the communities where he has spent the most time. 


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