There are Hall of Fame basketball players, and then there are Hall of Fame human beings who just happen to play basketball. That’s why in order to honor the game’s greats who pour their hearts into giving back to their communities, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame chooses winners of the Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award. The 2018 recipients: 2012 WNBA MVP Tina Charles, NBA champion J.J. Barea and 14-year NBA veteran Boris Diaw.
“The Mannie Jackson Award is an esteemed honor awarded only to those with the highest level of dedication to making a positive impact in the lives of others,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “The Basketball Hall of Fame is proud to recognize J.J. Barea, Tina Charles and Boris Diaw for the impact they have had on the national and global level. Our game spans the earth and so does the generosity and commitment of these three outstanding leaders.”
Mannie Jackson, a former Harlem Globetrotter and 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee, became the first African-American owner of a major international sports and entertainment organization when he purchased the Globetrotters in 1993 and saved them from collapsing. During his time with the organization, the Globetrotters dished more than just assists and buckets of confetti. They gave more than $15 million to charitable organizations.
Jackson helped the Hall of Fame select this year’s winners, all of whom have quite the résumé beyond basketball.
Charles isn’t just a five-time WNBA all-star. She’s also a heart health activist who launched Hopey’s Heart Foundation in 2013, an organization that provides health education, CPR training and AEDs in schools, communities and rec centers. To date, Hopey’s Heart has placed 330 AEDs across the country, and Charles donated half her WNBA salary in 2014 and 2015 to the cause.
She has also contributed to the construction of a school in West Africa in addition to funding three four-year secondary school scholarships for girls in Africa.
Joining Charles, who will be recognized on September 6 during the Hall of Fame’s Enshrinement Weekend, will be Dallas Mavericks guard and Puerto Rico native J.J. Barea.
Barea borrowed the Mavericks’ team plane multiple times to provide more than 100,000 pounds of food, water, clothing, medical supplies and generators to Puerto Rico after the area was leveled by Hurricane Maria. He also raised almost $500,000 for families in need during that time, and his efforts didn’t stop there.
“The J.J. Barea Foundation – which offers economic assistance to nonprofit entities in Puerto Rico – partnered with ofo, the world’s leading station-free bike-sharing company, to donate 600 bikes to help with transportation on the island. The work to restore has only just begun for Puerto Rico, but Barea won’t be stopping anytime soon.”
Last but certainly not least among the winners of the Mannie Jackson award is Boris Diaw, who has lead a group of basketball pros each summer since 2005 to Senegal and Peru to help “countries who grossly underfund training for children… Diaw has also homed in on higher quality girls sports programming, founding a SEED Academy for girls in 2013.”
After Diaw learned that just 39 percent of Senegalese women are literate, he decided the school should enroll 20 girls per year based on academic, athletic and leadership potential.
His foundation also supports an orphanage in Senegal and Le Dantec hospital.
So, based on the hearts of these basketball greats, it’s fair to say that their hard work away from the hardwood is making an impact bigger than any game-winning bucket.