Many know Italy as the birthplace of the Renaissance, and by extension, much of Western culture. It also happens to be home to NBA veteran Danilo Gallinari. The swingman, who hails from Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, came to the U.S. in 2008 to play in the NBA after four years of professional basketball in his home country. As he carved out a solid role for himself in the NBA, he also began turning his attention to philanthropy.
Italy is home to some of the world’s greatest architecture and most beautiful landscapes; however, some of these stunning features are in great danger resulting from climate change. For example, Europe’s southernmost glacier, Calderone, located in Abruzzo, is on pace to melt by 2020 and many experts consider it irreversible. In addition, the coastal waters the country is known for may soon swallow up hotspots like Venice. When Gallinari started taking notice of these crises, he decided to do something about it.
In 2016 while playing for the Denver Nuggets, Gallinari partnered with Stand for Trees, an organization committed to protecting forests worldwide and minimizing the carbon footprint of humans. He helped the organization kick off its #BigFootLittleFootprint campaign, a reference to not only the star’s size 15s but also his commitment to neutralize his carbon footprint. He even started riding his bike to and from practice.
“I have always had a great connection to nature. I try to spend as much time outdoors as possible whether I am hiking, walking around Denver, enjoying my home country of Italy or traveling the world,” Gallinari stated. “We need to find a way to protect our forests and appreciate mother nature.”
Through the campaign, Stand for Trees raised funds to support communities and wildlife that rely on forests for their livelihoods and offered donors a monetary incentive to help keep trees alive and soak up the tonnes of CO2 put into the air by humans.
Now an LA Clipper, Gallinari supports other charitable initiatives too, including the team’s recent Teamwork at the Table event where he helped distribute food and clothes to community members alongside teammate Marcin Gortat. Also an avid world traveler, he is involved with basketball-related charities like Basketball without Borders, which hosts camps and develops health and wellness programs for youth around the globe. Having participated in the program in Italy, he is glad to finally have the chance to serve as a mentor.
While Gallinari has dazzled basketball spectators for the past ten years, it seems that his ultimate goal is to leave a lasting impact through his philanthropy and climate change efforts as well, both in Italy and around the world. He is setting an example for all of us that you don’t have to be an NBA star to follow in his footprints.