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Brendan Haywood and Zach Randolph pay the utility bills for dozens of Charlotte and Memphis families in need

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Brendan Haywood in December, as Zach Randolph poses with the NBA's Bob Lanier (Getty Images)

As a good chunk of the East coast digs itself from out of a snowstorm and most of the country braces for at least another month of cold conditions, monthly bills remain a frightening concern for thousands of American families. Especially if you’re a single mother, attempting to go to school, work, juggle responsibilities with children, and make the pretty significant jump from a homeless shelter to place of your own.

Charlotte Bobcats center Brendan Haywood, in one of the finer plays of the NBA’s year, has decided to help over a dozen local mothers working through the same concerns. On Sunday, as the mothers met at the Salvation Army to update each other and Salvation Army workers on their latest move, the parents watched in puzzlement as the Bobcats’ mascot Rufus and several banks of media cameras showed up out of nowhere. From the Charlotte Observer:

Rochelle Monroe watched as her children played with Rufus as she wondered what the gathering was really about.

“They said they were going to give us help,” she said. “I don’t know what they mean.”

Just after 3:30 p.m., Haywood appeared to tell the women that he understood their struggle.

“I know it’s hard going day to day making ends meet,” Haywood said to the women. “One of the hardest things when my mom was trying to stretch that dollar was paying bills.”

Haywood then revealed that he would be paying their electric bills for a year, urging the women to “take this gift and have a great year.”

The room erupted into cheers with some high-fiving each other and others hugging their children.

Haywood grew up nearby in Greensboro, in a single parent home. He worked his tenacity as a player into a North Carolina scholarship and NBA career, ending up back in North Carolina last summer after being waived by the Dallas Mavericks – his second pairing with former teammate and current Bobcat owner Michael Jordan. Jordan, who grew up in the state after being born in Brooklyn, has done significant charity work in the area despite tightening the belt recently with his small market team.

Not that it matters, but Haywood is making around $9 million this year in combined salaries from the Mavericks and Bobcats. This is still a significant donation, though.

Memphis Grizzlies All-Star Zach Randolph recently made his own donation, to the tune of $20,000, to families that saw their services shut off in the dead of winter. From FOX Memphis:

"Come from single parent home, mom was on welfare, struggled myself so I know what it's like," Randolph said. "Been fortunate, blessed. Just like to give back because I think this something the Lord has served me to do, give back, brings me blessings in other ways. I'm here to tell you you're a blessing to me."

Randolph donated $20,000 to Metropolitan Inter-Faith Aswsociation (MIFA) to be allocated to 100 homes in the Memphis area, as part of their MLGW Plus-1 program, which is a program administered by MIFA to pay utility services for those in need.

This isn’t the first time Randolph has done this. He’s performed the same action for four consecutive years, paying the bills for a series of families that saw their heat turned off every January. And in his first months in Memphis he did the same thing during a sweltering Tennessee summer, when just as many families couldn’t afford air conditioning. The NBA, upon handing Randolph the Kia Community Assist Award, also detailed some of his other community work:

Randolph was very active in the community during the holidays this season. He provided 900 boxes of food to families of students at two Memphis area high schools, Carver High and Booker T. Washington High. Randolph purchased the boxes and personally distributed them to the students. Each family received a turkey or ham, stuffing, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce, green beans, and corn bread mix.

Randolph also distributed more than 100 coats to kids for the winter season at Cummings Elementary School, in partnership with the Memphis Police Department and Grizzlies sponsor City Gear, and teamed up with teammate Tony Allen to sponsor a holiday shopping spree for 200 kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis. He also sponsored 100 kids from the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program in his hometown of Marion, Indiana, providing each child with a $100 gift card.

Fine work, big men.

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