Sports Stars with Hearts of Gold
Although the work that it takes to become a professional athlete seems like it would leave a lot of people desperate for some rest and relaxation, there are a few caring sports stars who think beyond their own needs. Some donate millions of dollars to domestic and international charities, while others donate their time and energy – but all should be equally respected. Whether their choice is international humanitarian relief or local sports programming for underprivileged children, this list is full of examples of sports superstars who are using their fame for good.
WWE superstar John Cena seems like a tough dude – he’s been with the WWE since 2005, and has held wrestling titles all over the country since his introduction to professional wrestling in 1999. He has also held the title of WWE World Heavyweight Champion for the fourth highest number of days, and headlined four Wrestlemania events.
He is also the first celebrity who has ever worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to grant more than 500 wishes. Organization spokespeople say that it’s his positive attitude and indomitable spirit that really allows children to connect with him. Despite his many wrestling injuries and busy schedule, Cena always makes time for kids from the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Selected as the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft, LeBron James was one of the most exciting rookies that the league had seen in years. The media had long been touting him as the next NBA superstar, even when he was still in high school, but his road to success wasn’t easy. He was born to a 16-year-old single mother, and they moved from house to house until he moved in with a local basketball coach, who served as a mentor to him.
After becoming a basketball superstar, James wanted to give back to his community, so he funded a scholarship to the University of Akron that could potentially benefit up to 2,300 students.
After only one season of college baseball, Albert Pujols was picked up by the Major Leagues in 1999, and has been playing with the Los Angeles Angels since 2012. Aside from regularly wowing the crowds with his batting abilities, Albert Pujols is also the founder and chairman of the Pujols Family Foundation, which he founded with his wife, Diedre, in 2005. Their organization’s mission focuses on promoting awareness of Down syndrome (which their daughter was born with), as well as helping with development projects and healthcare in the Dominican Republic. Pujols regularly hosts events for children and youth born with Down syndrome all around the United States.
Eli Manning spent 8 season as QB for the New York Giants, and though he was voted MVP for two Super Bowls in a row – one of only five QBs in the entire history of the NFL to be awarded the honor twice. His NFL heritage is as well known as his own skills on the field — his dad was a NFL quarterback, and his older brother, Peyton Manning, has played with both the Broncos, and the Colts. Eli has distinguished himself from his family not only on the field, but off it as well. He is personally an active supporter of many different charities and causes, and recently committed to raising 2.7 million dollars, in the next 5 years, to build a children’s clinic in a Mississippi hospital.
Not content just to be number one in women’s singles tennis, Serena Williams has spent most of her career serving different charities. In 2008, she was able to give enough money to build a school in Kenya. That same year, she also provided money for scholarships to college for children in the United States.
In addition to starting her own foundation, she also donates sizeable amounts of money to many different foundations around the world. In recognition of her work, she was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2011, and helped them launch their Schools for Asia campaign. Not only does Serena write big cheques for her foundation and others, but she also personally volunteers with First Serve Miami, a group that organizes tennis programming for underprivileged children.