A native of Pinetown, North Carolina, Bam Adebayo is a center for the Miami Heat. Adebayo is currently playing in his second season with the Heat who selected him in the 2017 NBA Draft from the University of Kentucky.
Here are Bam’s answers to The Sport of Philanthropy’s top 10 questions about his philanthropic work:
What is your motivation for giving back?
My motivation to give back comes from my mother and watching her struggle all these years. As a youngster, it was just me and my mother as others helped us along the way. Those people definitely helped shape me along with my mother. They motivated me to keep the spirit of giving alive as I became a professional athlete.
What issue is most important to you and why?
Struggling single mothers and their children. I saw what my mom endured and how children suffer too even though they didn't ask to be put in those circumstances. All kids need sometimes is a little boost, to see that there is hope.
Why did you decide to start your foundation?
To help people in need and motivate young people to dream the way I was able to dream and turn my dreams into an unbelievable ride and reality.
How have you seen your philanthropic efforts make a difference?
Just to see a person smile, to see them laugh out loud or even to see them cry tears of joy is amazing. Human emotion moves us all in different ways and can uplift us in both big and small ways. To see that emotion in someone who may be suffering or experiencing a tough time is always great, especially when it’s a young person who could be motivated to climb out of those circumstances. Just letting them know that someone they may admire cares about them can make all the difference.
What type of charitable work do you do outside Miami, particularly in your home state of North Carolina?*
I have done everything from help with youth sports programs, to support hurricane and tornado victims struck by devastation, to visit schools and youth centers, to speak with kids about success and staying away from drugs as they move on to adulthood.
*You can learn more about Bam’s recent charitable initiatives in Miami HERE.
Which philanthropic efforts are you most proud of and why?
It's really hard to say because all of it changes lives. It's hard to pick one or two examples when I have seen the smile on a young severe burn victim’s face, laughed with a kid who has had a relapse with leukemia, seen the smile of a grandmother who couldn't afford Thanksgiving and witnessed the joy of kids at my toy drive. It's all good stuff when you motivate people and uplift the human spirit.
What do you see as the best solutions to address the issues you care about most?
Giving is the best solution and showing people you care. It doesn't even always have to be monetary. Sometimes you can just show others you care by giving your time, your smile and positive energy. Through my foundation, I want to change people in a small way while changing the way the world thinks in a big way. We all help one another along, and they live well who live for something that will outlast themselves.
Tell us more about your custom sneakers auction and how you got the idea.
I love shoes and when I connected with Marcus Rivero of SolesBySir, he started making some of the hottest custom kicks out there for me. Of course sneakers are a big deal on social media, so it became a way to connect with the youth, spread positive messages and raise money for my foundation by saving the sneakers to auction off later.
Who else in the sports world do you see as inspirational in their philanthropic work and why?
Udonis Haslem has not only been an inspiration to me on the court and in practice, but his ability to give back and take care of his community has been a huge inspiration to me off it. We are great friends and I admire him a great deal for all he has done for the city of Miami.
What advice would you give other athletes and influential sports figures seeking to use their platforms to create positive social impact and better the world?
I would encourage them to use their platform to motivate others because we are role models in many ways and people do look up to us because we spend so much time in the public eye. People see us much more now because of social media, so our images should shine light to motivate others.