How well do you really think you know Alonzo Mourning?
Let me better frame that question by all but assuring you the teeth gnarling, profanity spewing, pain-inflicting former NBA bad boy may own one of the biggest, most giving hearts in all of sports.
The work the 39-year-old-surefire Hall of Famer does through his Alonzo Mourning Charity Foundation has long become legendary, raising millions upon millions in donations for various youth oriented educational programs and organizations that support abused and neglected kids since its inception in 1997.
Each summer, many of the biggest of the biggest of NBA stars turned out to give of their time and resources to his Zo’s Summer Grove weekend event down in Miami. But now the man NBA fans not stationed in South Beach all once seemed to hate has turned his attention to Haiti, where he has largely become the face of the entire pro sports landscape’s response to the tragedy that has befallen that region.
Already twice over the last few weeks Mourning has traveled to Port-Au-Prince, once when he actually aided in digging out survivors and administering medical supplies and another instance when he escorted several young children in desperate need of care back here to States.
“That’s Zo,” said Pat Riley, Mourning’s former longtime coach and mentor. “It’s why when he calls we all in the NBA family start digging and reaching in our pockets. We all know where his heart is.”
And knowing the Alonzo Mourning story as I’ve come to, how, having once been an orphan himself, he feels such a kindred with so many of the children he now seeks to help, I too feel as if I’ve come to know a bit of his heart.
It’s why when he served notice of how he was planning to help out in Haiti, I too— Bulls’ fan for life that I am— dug as far as I could into my own pockets.
Alonzo Mourning, one love, my brother.