A devout Christian, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard said before he was drafted in 2004 that he wanted to “raise the name of God within the league and throughout the world.” Howard has stuck to his Christian faith during his six-plus seasons in the NBA, transforming from a high school phenom to the NBA’s best center. When he’s not leading the Orlando Magic to the top of the Southeast Division standings, Howard, you can find the 24-year-old working with the NBA’s “Read to Achieve” program or with his own foundation, that provides scholarships for students that want to attend his high school alma mater, Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)
Yes, he might be a member of the New York Yankees, but that doesn’t mean Derek Jeter isn’t one of the standup guys in professional sports. You already know all the clichés when it comes to Jeter’s play on the field, but “The Captain,” swings for the fences in his philanthropy work. He founded the Turn 2 Foundation in 1996, to help children and teenagers avoid drug and alcohol addiction. To make sure the foundation is in good hands, his father, Dr. S. Charles Jeter, is the President and runs the day-to-day operations.
(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
What he lacks in personality, San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan makes up for it on and off the court. The four-time NBA champion, who will quietly end his career as the best power forward of all-time, founded the Tim Duncan Foundation in 2001. His foundation funds nonprofit organizations in the areas of education, youth sports, health awareness and research in San Antonio, Winston-Salem (where Duncan attended Wake Forest University) and his home country of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Myron Rolle redefined the term “student-athlete.” The Tennessee Titans safety stepped away from football as he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, earning a M.Sc. in medical anthropology. Rolle’s foundation plans on opening a free health services clinic in the Bahamas named the Myron L. Rolle Medical Clinic and Sports Complex.
(AP Photo/Phil Coale)
Softball star Natasha Watley made history in 2004 when she became the first African-American female to play on the USA Softball team in the Olympics. Watley hopes to get more girls involved in the sport through her foundation, which creates opportunities for girls in underserved communities to learn and play the game.
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
One of the great storylines from the 2008 Summer Olympics was Cullen Jones and the United States Olympic swim team. As part of the record-breaking 4X100 freestyle relay team, Jones is one of two African-Americans to hold or share a world record in swimming. Through the “Make A Splash” program, Jones is trying to improve minority participation in swimming.
(AP Photo/Mike Derer)
When Serena Williams isn’t dominating the opposition on the tennis court, you can likely find her assisting in a variety of charities ranging from breast cancer to the Haiti relief efforts. Williams made history with her sister, Venus, by becoming the first African-American women to obtain ownership of an NFL franchise in August 2009.
(AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
During his time with the Miami Dolphins, linebacker Jason Taylor founded the Jason Taylor Foundation with his then wife, Katina, with the goal of improving the lives of children in South Florida. The winner of the 2007 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, Taylor has been twice named to the “Good Guys” list by The Sporting News.
(AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
Despite the criticism he faced during his 11 seasons in Philadelphia, quarterback Donovan McNabb is one of the classiest guys in the NFL. The Donovan McNabb Fund has brought awareness to diabetes and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
(AP Photo/Rob Carr)
As she slowly approaches the end of her tennis career, Venus Williams is just starting a budding fashion career. After graduating with an associate degree in Fashion Design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale with Cum Laude honors, Williams formed “V Starr Interiors,” a commercial and residential design firm with clients ranging from Tavis Smiley to the United States Olympic Committee.
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Swimmer Maritza Correia, the first Black women to be on the USA Olympic Swimming Team, hopes she won’t be the last. In order to ensure she won’t be alone in the record books, Correia works with inner city schools and detention centers to get young kids involved in swimming.
(AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
You might not know the name George Wilson, but the Buffalo Bills safety is one of the most active NFL players in the community. He started The George Wilson S.A.F.E.T.Y Foundation, which stands for Save Adolescents From the Everyday Trials of Youth, which uses life skills as a tool to educate youth on how to survive in different environments. Along with his foundation, Wilson is involved with the “Play 60” challenge, a program that encourages kids to engage in physical activity for 60 minutes a day. For his work, Wilson was chosen as the 2009 winner of the Buffalo Bills/NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award, as voted on by selected members of the Western New York community.
Formula One racing might not be popular in the United States, but Lewis Hamilton has been tearing up the racing circuit since his debut in 2007. Dubbed the first black driver of Formula One, Hamilton overcame racial abuse to become the youngest Formula One Champion in 2008.
(AP Photo/Andre Penner)
Arguably the WNBA’s best scorer, sharpshooter Cappie Pondexter is more than just a basketball player. Despite splitting her playing time between the New York Liberty and UMMC Ekaterinburg in Russia, the 27-year-old Pondexter found time to start 4 Season Style Management with celebrity stylist Lisa Smith-Craig, a consulting firm that provides fashion styling and image consulting for WNBA players. For Pondexter, she’s proving that basketball and fashion do indeed mix.
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla, one of the premiere black stars in the NHL, was awarded the NHL Foundation Player Award and King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2004 for his community service and humanitarian contributions. Iginla donates the proceeds of his Jarome Iginla Hockey School to the Diabetes Research Association.
(AP Photo/Ryan Remiorz, CP)
It’s not very often the causal football fan knows an offensive guard by name, but Brian Waters of the Kansas City Chiefs needs to be the exception. The four-time Pro Bowler won the 2009 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his work with the Brian Waters 54 Foundation. Established in 2004, Waters has awarded 82 college scholarships to low-income students and his back-to-school program has provided thousands of students with school supplies, uniforms, dental care and immunizations.
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
One of the few soccer stars that’s not in the middle of a sex scandal, Thierry Henry recently came to the United States to play for the New York Red Bulls. Henry has been a crusader against racism in the sport of soccer through the “Stand Up Speak Up” campaign that was launched in 2005.
(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Sacramento Kings center Samuel Dalembert, a native of Haiti, wanted to give back following the devastating earthquake that destroyed his country in January. The Samuel Dalembert Foundation partnered with UNICEF, the Red Cross and Feed The Children to assist in the relief efforts. Dalembert personally donated more than $125,000 to UNICEF and won the 2009-10 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his contributions.
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
The 35-year-old outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels is best known for his nine consecutive Gold Glove Awards and his highlight reel catches in the outfield. But away from the diamond, Hunter launched “The Torii Hunter Project,” which will provide a total of 100 scholarships to students in three different states until 2012.
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Minnesota Vikings safety Madieu Williams founded The Madieu Williams Foundation in 2005, which focuses on teaching a healthy lifestyle to youth. The Sierra Leone native recently donated more than $2 million to his alma matter, the University of Maryland, to create “The ‘Madieu Williams Center for Global Health Initiatives.”
(photo courtesy of Ron Allen)
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We all know about the black athletes who are constantly in the news for their bad behavior away from the sport. But what about the athletes that are doing everything right? These are the ones that you would want your son or daughter to look up to. TheGrio highlights 20 athletes that you wouldn’t be ashamed to root for.