9 Athletes Who Used Their Voice For Political & Social Change
April 11, 2014 - 10:02 pm
Dwight Howard - Christianity & Faith
Dwight Howard is normally in the news for controversial comments with a teammate, changing organizations or “baby-mama drama.” But the the 10-year NBA veterans surprisingly about something more meaningful: spreading his spirituality. Since his days as a high school phenom, Howard has said he’s about spreading the Christian faith. He even said God was the one who helped him turn away from Orlando and make his move to Houston.
Jason Collins - Coming Out
Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins coming out this year was big not only for him, but the domino effect has been easy to see. First former Missouri football player Michael Sam announced he was gay and just this month, current UMass guard Derrick Gordon became the first active openly gay player in Division 1 Men’s basketball. Collins broke down a door and helped create a climate that current players would feel comfortable coming out in.
Muhammad Ali - Protesting Viet Nam War
In 1967, Muhammad Ali was on one of the most recognizable figures in the world. As the Heavyweight boxing champion, his stage was the largest and when the U.S. drafted him to fight in the Viet Nam war, he refused to enlist because of his religious beliefs. Ali was arrested and charged with draft evasion, stripped of his title and couldn’t fight for three years. After the Supreme Court later overruled his conviction, he regained his title by fighting George Foreman in 1975.
Dikembe Mutombo — Mutombo Foundation
“Mount Mutombo” made his name blocking shots for NBA teams, but the shots he helped those in his homeland of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are way more important. The over $15 million donated to build the hospital in his country sets to prevent diseases, improve health care and bolster health research and education.
Derek Jeter — The Turn 2 Foundation
Since 1996, Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation has raised money to help at-risk children find alternative outlets other than drugs and alcohol. Annually, the foundation raises $1million in grants for programs designed to help students excel in school and make good life decisions in New York City and in Michigan.
David Beckham — Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust
David Beckham might be know more well known for his life as an athlete and sex symbol, but he’s also a beacon for philanthropy. Outside of the charity that he and wife Victoria Beckham fund, Beck’s also a notable founder of Malaria No More, an ambassador of UNICEF and supports groups like Help for Heroes, Elton John AIDS Foundation and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Tiger Woods — Tiger Woods Foundation
Tiger’s been the butt of jokes, the topic of pop culture stories and even rap songs for his extramarital escapades, but that doesn’t count out the things he’s done for others with the money he’s earned. Sine 1996, the Tiger Woods Foundation has funded over $30 million for college scholarships, grants and internships for the less fortunate. He’s also attached to the Tiger Woods Learning Center where kids learn about subjects like marine biology and aerospace engineering to expose them to different types of careers. This doesn’t include the money he’s donated to other causes like the the Rainforest Foundation Fund and Shriners Hospitals for Children, which specializes in helping children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and more.
Tommie Smith & John Carlos — Protest at the 1968 Olympic medal podium
Perhaps the most iconic political sports image, American track and field stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood at the medal podium in the 1968 Summer Olympics with black gloves on tightly clinched fists in protest of the testament of minorities in the Unite States. Smith, who won the 200 meter race and Carlos, who cam in third, became iconic figures with their “podium protest.” Still revered today, the image, according to Sports Illustrated, is the most reproduced image in Olympic history.