Keeth Smart became the first American to reach No. 1 in the world in saber fencing and later won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympics. That he was black made it all the more compelling.
NFL star Khalil Mack delivered holiday cheer for several customers at a Walmart in his Florida hometown over the weekend, according to KNX NewsRadio. The Chicago Bears linebacker reportedly paid off $80,000 worth of layaway accounts, leaving many families with less to worry about.
To quote the article:
The four-time Pro-Bowler took care of the debts at a Walmart in Fort Pierce through the Khalil Mack Foundation, which focuses on impacting lives of “inter-city and under-privileged youth and families.” The store announced the donation in a Facebook post and thanked him for the act of kindness.
“We have some wonderful News! If you have an active Holiday Layaway account at your local Ft. Pierce Wal-Mart, you account has been paid off!” the Walmart wrote. “We here at Walmart would like to thank the Khalil Mack Foundation for your generosity, and for making so many families happy for the holidays!”
Mack covered more than 300 accounts, which cost about $80,000 total, according to the Chicago Tribune. “His foundation came to us and said he wanted to be a secret Santa,” store manager Mathias Libardi told TCPalm.com.
Mack is known for giving back to his hometown. In June, he donated 100 pairs of cleats to the Fort Pierce Westwood football team.
Kipchoge covered the 26.2 miles in one hour 59 minutes 40 seconds in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria on Saturday.
🇬🇧 1954 Roger Bannister breaks the 4-minute mile
🇺🇸 1969 Neil Armstrong walks on the moon
🇯🇲 2009 @UsainBolt runs 100m in 09.58
— INEOS 1:59 Challenge (@INEOS159) October 12, 2019
This feat will not be recognized officially as the marathon world record because it was not in open competition and he used a team of rotating pacemakers.
“This shows no-one is limited,” said Kipchoge. “Now I’ve done it, I am expecting more people to do it after me.”
To read more: https://www.bbc.com/sport/athletics/50025543
According to jbhe.com, Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee announced that part of 25th Avenue South in front of its Memorial Gymnasium will be ceremonially renamed “Perry Wallace Way” in memory of the trailblazing Vanderbilt student-athlete who integrated Southeastern Conference varsity basketball in 1967.
On December 2, 1967, Wallace made history when he played for Vanderbilt University in a game with Southern Methodist University. Two days later, he played in a game against Southeastern Conference rival, Auburn University. Wallace endured verbal abuse from fans and had objects thrown at him from the stands.
His story is told in Andrew Maraniss’ best-selling book Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014).
After graduating from Vanderbilt University and Columbia Law School, Wallace served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Later, Wallace entered the academic world and served on the faculty of the law schools at Howard University, the University of Baltimore, and American University.
NBA Legend and former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan announced on Tuesday he will donate $1 million to relief efforts in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, CBS News reported.
“I am devastated to see the destruction that Hurricane Dorian has brought to the Bahamas, where I own property and visit frequently,” Jordan said in a statement, shared on Twitter by his spokeswoman and manager, Estee Portnoy. “My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering and those who have lost loved ones.”
Statement From Michael Jordan pic.twitter.com/JIcPGE8y2C
— Estee Portnoy (@esteep) September 10, 2019
WNBA superstar and Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie will be the first female athlete honored with a statue outside of Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Arash Markazi reported the news, writing that the Los Angeles Sparks and Anschutz Entertainment Group still have to iron out the specific date but agreed Leslie will be the 11th statue outside of the famed sports and entertainment arena. Leslie’s statue will also be the first of a WNBA player outside of a team’s home arena.
Lisa Leslie is going to get a statue outside of Staples Center. The Sparks and AEG will talk about the specifics soon but it will be the 11th in Star Plaza and the first honoring a female athlete. It will be the first statue of a WNBA player outside the home arena of a WNBA team. pic.twitter.com/nw7YdDh30u
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) September 5, 2019
According to bleacherreport.com, Leslie went to the Sparks in the WNBA’s inaugural draft in 1997 and played her entire career with the team through 2009. During her professional basketball career, Leslie won three league MVPs, two championships, four Olympic gold medals and three All-Star Game MVPs .
According to Yahoo! Sports, the first of what organizations intend to be an annual event will feature the North Carolina A&T Aggies and Southern Jaguars at the Chicago White Sox Guaranteed Rate Field. It will join The Andre Dawson Classic as ways to promote HBCU schools, which are slowly watching their baseball programs fold.
Erwin Prentiss Hill, CEO of Black College Sports Group 360 (BCSG), told HBCU Sports he wants the event to “promote education opportunities to urban youth” who may not know of the schools or how to navigate the college admissions process.
“Greatness comes from historically black colleges and universities. The bottom line is to get more urban youth back to our HBCU’s, so that talented young men and women can add to the legacy of our outstanding predominantly black universities.”
With the decline in HBCU baseball, it's great to see that we'll have the inaugural HBCU World Series.https://t.co/IooNq6GXle
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeague) May 16, 2019
Baseball’s decline in lower-income communities
The cost of playing sports can add up quickly for families. It’s especially difficult to have to pay for a glove, cleats, bats and even uniform costs, now that there are fewer programs supported through park or school programs.
Participating on a travel team is even costlier and can require more shuttling around from parents, who might already be working multiple jobs to get by. Little League is so high-stakes it’s must-see TV in August.
Billy Witz covered the lack of African-American players on HBCU rosters Monday for the New York Times and noted the decline of baseball through the eyes of Bethune-Cookman athletic director Lynn Thompson. Thompson said places where he played sandlot ball in the 1960s were paved over for basketball courts and parking lots.
Recently, however, the percentage of black players on Major League Baseball‘s opening-day rosters in 2018 was the highest in six years at 8.4 percent. Between 2012 and 2017, 20 percent of first-round draft picks were African-American. Those numbers are in part due to MLB’s focus on its Urban Youth Academies that started in Compton, California, in 2006 and its Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program, launched in 1989.
“It’s been a huge investment for us,” Renee Tirado, MLB’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, said last spring. “Obviously growing the game amongst our players is a priority, so that uptick has definitely been from a concerted effort.”
Perhaps a focus on HBCU baseball will bring those numbers even higher in the coming years.
This week, reporter Erica L. Green wrote an encouraging feature in the New York Times about the “I Promise” public school NBA superstar LeBron James opened last year through the LeBron James Family Foundation in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. To quote the article:
“This time last year, the students at the school — Mr. James’s biggest foray into educational philanthropy — were identified as the worst performers in the Akron public schools and branded with behavioral problems. Some as young as 8 were considered at risk of not graduating. Now, they are helping close the achievement gap in Akron.
The academic results are early, and at 240, the sample size of students is small, but the inaugural classes of third and fourth graders at I Promise posted extraordinary results in their first set of district assessments. Ninety percent met or exceeded individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing their peers across the district.”
To read more about the school, its current impact and see photos from it, click here.
Ayesha and Steph Curry announced the launch of a STEM scholarship program for young women from San Francisco’s Bay Area.
.@StephenCurry30 wasn't comfortable profiting off Riley's shoe design, so he went to @UnderArmour and turned it into a scholarship that will impact girls for years to come. #RuinTheGame pic.twitter.com/d72fvkP9E7
— SC30, Inc. (@SC30inc) March 8, 2019
We are happy to report that as an ambassador for the USA Swimming Foundation, Manuel did not just talk the talk, but plans to swim the swim! She is helping provide free swim lessons to every student at I Promise during a week-long camp in June of this year.
To read more details, go to swimswam.com.