Pro athletes are famous — and infamous — for spending their millions on fast cars, supersized mansions and living the VIP life. Dozens of stars across all major sports, however, have recently dug deep to donate to causes associated with the dual crises of COVID-19 and the nationwide unrest that boiled over in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Here are the athletes who made big donations to racial justice and coronavirus relief.
Last updated: Aug. 6, 2020
Along with his wife, Brandi, Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby donated $5,000 to Black Lives Matter D.C. The couple donated another $5,000 to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights before launching an auction to raise further funds called Get off the Bench for Racial Equality.
Golfer Ryan Palmer stuck to what he knew when it came time to contribute to virus relief efforts. Palmer set up a foundation called Pros for a Purpose, which lets people donate to various charities that are tied to canceled PGA Tour events, as those tournaments can no longer raise money for charity that they normally would. He and his wife donated $20,000 with the goal of helping the charities of nine PGA Tour events that have been impacted by the shutdown.
Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray gave the GENYOUth Now COVID-19 Emergency School Nutrition Fund a $25,000 boost. Many children get the bulk of their nutrition at school, and with classrooms and cafeterias empty, organizations like GENYOUth work to fill that void by providing meals to children who need them the most.
Chicago Cubs star Yu Darvish runs a popular and profitable YouTube channel. He donated $43,000 of those profits as the coronavirus crisis worsened at the end of April. Half went to cancer research, one of Darvish’s pet causes, and the rest went to an organization dedicated to helping single-mother households through the crisis.
The Greater Cleveland Food Bank — like food banks nationwide — is buckling under the immense need the crisis has created. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and his wife, Emily, helped ease that burden with a $50,000 gift. The couple successfully petitioned others in the sports world and beyond to make similar donations.
New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban made a hefty donation to a GoFundMe account set up to support the daughter of George Floyd. The NHL veteran also announced that the league was matching his $50,000 donation.
Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron split his $50,000 donation equally, with $25,000 going to the NAACP’s Boston branch and the other $25,000 going to Centre Multiethnique de Quebec. He also made a statement saying, “With an open heart and compassion, I am determined to be an ally, continue to grow myself and raise my children to be anti-racist.”
Devin and Jason McCourty
Devin and Jason McCourty don’t do much without each other. The two men are brothers, they’re both NFL defensive backs, they both play for the New England Patriots and they both chipped in for a unique kind of COVID-19 donation effort. They bought $90,000 worth of Chromebooks for students in their native Rockland County, New York, which is especially critical in the era of mass distance learning.
Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is the NBA’s reigning league MVP. He, like so many other players across all major sports, is sharing the wealth with the people he’s most familiar with. The forward is donating $100,000 to support laid-off workers at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum.
Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky responded to the NHL shutdown by donating six figures to support part-time stadium employees at the BB&T Center. In a show of solidarity, all of his teammates followed suit and the team’s owner vowed to make up the difference for whatever else is needed after that.
Three-point ace Steph Curry is one of the greatest players in NBA history. He and his wife are partnering with the Alameda County Community Food Bank and Oakland Unified School District to provide 1 million meals to students who rely on now-closed schools for much of their nutrition. According to FeedingAmerica.org, a $1 donation can pay for 10 meals, and if that arithmetic is correct, that’s a contribution of $100,000.
Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans spread his generosity between his adopted home of Tampa Bay and his native city of Galveston, Texas. The $50,000 he gave to United Way Suncoast will help support 53,000 people living in 31,000 Tampa Bay households. The other $50,000 is spread around various Galveston relief operations. None of this is new for Evans, who has a long record of charitable giving.
The employees and supporting staff at Little Caesar’s Arena, which hosts Detroit Pistons home games, is getting some much-needed help from the very athletes who pack the stadium full of fans. Among the biggest givers is Blake Griffin, who pledged a six-figure donation to help offset the effects of all those lost paychecks.
Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love is an NBA All-Star and an NBA champion. Aware that not everyone who works for the Cavaliers gets the same paycheck as him, the center and power forward was quick to dig deep early on in the pandemic to support stadium employees and supporting staff with a $100,000 donation. Then in late June, he donated $500,000 to his alma mater UCLA for research involving anxiety and depression, both of which Love worries are being aggravated by the COVID crisis, according to CNN.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s generosity apparently inspired his teammate, Khris Middleton, to do the same. Middleton announced he would match the reigning MVP’s donation with a $100,000 gift of his own, also dedicated to supporting stadium workers who were impacted by the NBA shutdown. Back in April, Middleton donated $25,000 to a COVID relief fund established by the Milwaukee Public School Foundation.
Astros outfielder George Springer’s sympathies were similar to those of Sergei Bobrovsky. Springer donated the same amount for the same cause. In this case, however, the six-figure check went to the employees who are no longer able to earn a living working at Minute Maid Park.
When New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson announced he was donating $100,000 to support out-of-work staff at the Smoothie King Center, he cited the values his mother instilled in him as a child. The power forward also pointed to the fact that many of the locals who work there never fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, Ciara, took to Twitter to pledge a donation of 1 million meals to Americans affected by food shortages stemming from the coronavirus crisis. Following the same formula used for Steph Curry, that comes out to a donation of about $100,000.
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman made three separate donations, all in an effort to relieve the coronavirus-related suffering. He gave $50,000 to the Atlanta Food Bank, another $50,000 to the Giving Kitchen and finally $25,000 to the Salvation Army.
Star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was only traded to the Arizona Cardinals in March and has yet to play a single game with the organization, but he’s already making an impact on his new community. Hopkins pledged to donate $150,000 to the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund.
Along with his wife, Megan, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee announced that he’s donating $150,000 through his own foundation to support Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County. The organizations will be able to convert his contribution to 50,000 meals served over six weeks.
Cubs star right fielder Jason Heyward is a World Series champion and five-time Gold Glove recipient. Early in the crisis, he gave $200,000 to coronavirus relief efforts in Chicago, one of the hardest-hit cities in America. His gift was split evenly between food supply and collection organization MASK and the Greater Chicago Food Depository, with $100,000 going to each. Then at the end of June, he donated an additional $100,000 to support both medical workers and contact tracing efforts on Chicago’s South Side.
In March, Kyrie Irving, star point guard for the Brooklyn Nets, gave an exceedingly generous, yet seemingly arbitrary sum of money to Feeding America. There’s nothing random, however, about his choice to donate $323,000. His birthday is March 23 (3/23), and some speculated the amount was also meant to serve as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant (3+2+3=8). He’s also donating 250,000 meals to hungry families.
One of the greatest defensive ends in football, J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans became the poster boy for charitable athletes when he spearheaded relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey. Watt gave $350,000 to the Houston Food Bank back in March as the organization struggled with skyrocketing demand and dwindling supplies.
Astros shortstop Carlos Correa established the Correa Family Foundation, which usually supports underprivileged children. He used that foundation to donate $500,000 worth of medical supplies to the city of Houston back in March. Part of that donation went to relief efforts in poor South American countries, as well.
In early March, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert joked about the coronavirus and intentionally touched all the microphones at a press conference. Days later, be became the first active professional athlete in a major American sport to be diagnosed with a confirmed case. He apologized for his behavior, was largely forgiven and donated a half-million dollars to several relief organizations in both the U.S. and France.
Three-time All-Star Joel Embiid is the face of the Philadelphia 76ers and one of the best centers in basketball. Like Gobert, he donated $500,000 to medical relief efforts while also vowing to take care of Sixers employees who were struggling financially. That was back in March. In April, he and two franchise managing partners announced they were donating a combined $1.3 million, but it’s unclear how much of that comes from the big man.
Donation: $1 million
Charlotte Hornets big man Bismack Biyombo donate $1 million worth of medical supplies to ongoing relief efforts in his home country, Congo. Among the massive stores of supplies included in the donation are 780 hazmat suits, more than 10,000 masks, wheelchairs and standard necessary medical supplies.
Donation: $1 million-plus
Although he won an NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors, point guard Jeremy Lin’s star burned brightest in 2012 during his stint with the New York Knicks during the team’s “Linsanity” era. Lin, who now plays in the CBA, has donated more than $1 million to various COVID relief efforts. Most of the donations made by Lin — the first Chinese-American to play in the NBA — went to purchasing medical supplies in Wuhan, China.
Donation: $1.04 million
The greatest men’s tennis player of all time, Roger Federer, along with his wife, donated 1 million Swiss francs — which are slightly more valuable than American dollars — to European relief efforts in late March. The gift went to the coronavirus aid in Switzerland, the couple’s home country.
Donation: $1.1 million
Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is one of many footballers who have donated large sums of money to the global coronavirus cause. The Juventus footballer gave 1 million euros — about $1.1 million — to intensive care units in the cities of Porto and Libson back in March.
Donation: $1.1 million
UFC superstar Conor McGregor donated 1 million euros, the equivalent of about $1.1 million. His gift went to healthcare workers and others fighting the virus in his homeland of the Republic of Ireland. The country’s minister of finance contacted McGregor privately to ask him to use his celebrity to encourage social distancing, which the bad-boy fighter did — before reaching for his checkbook.
Donation: $1.1 million
Barcelona star forward Lionel Messi recently announced a 1 million euro gift of his own. The roughly $1.1 million Messi has donated will be split into two parts, with half going to a hospital in Barcelona, and the other half slated for use in a medical center in his native Rosario, Argentina.
Donation: $1.1 million-plus
Tennis great Novak Djokovic also donated 1 million euros to the cause of the coronavirus relief. The gift went to help hospitals in his native Serbia. Shortly after that, he made another significant donation, this time to Italy, but the amount of the second gift is unknown.
Donation: $5 million
Longtime New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees donated one of the largest sums of any athlete — a full $5 million — to the coronavirus relief. Brees and his family earmarked the donation for delivery of meals to families struggling with food insecurity in his adopted state of Louisiana.
Donation: $5.3 million
Along with his wife Lauren, Pelicans shooting guard/point guard Jrue Holiday pledged a big chunk of their net worth to launch the Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Impact Fund. The lion’s share — $4 million — will be used to support black-owned businesses in Los Angeles, Indianapolis and New Orleans. Another $1 million will be distributed across 10 other cities, and the rest will support historically black colleges and universities.
Donation: $100 million
In the wake of the George Floyd protests, NBA legend Michael Jordan released a statement that read: “Until the ingrained racism that allows our country’s institutions to fail is completely eradicated, we will remain committed to protecting and improving the lives of Black people.”
Along with that, the Chicago Bulls great committed to donating nine figures over the next 10 years to racial equity-based organizations and causes.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Professional Athletes: Who Donated the Most to Charities So Far This Year?