It was an extremely heartfelt, touching moment that inspired people around the nation to think twice about what is truly important in life. Sure, the life of an athlete can be taxing. It can be challenging and it can test your character, but if we’ve learned anything from watching Still fight for Leah’s life, it’s that an athlete’s performance off the field can be equally, if not more inspiring, than his or her accomplishments in sports.
Some athletes go above and beyond to try to make the world a better place, donating a ton of their time, and thousands of dollars to various charities and research areas. Check out our list of the most charitable athletes below.
1) LeBron James
No lie, LeBron is one generous dude. The immensely successful b-ball legend has supported five charities in the past, including After-School-All-Stars, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Children’s Defense Fund, Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation, and ONEXONE. You may have gone through the “LeBron must be a raging narcissist” phase when he decided to broadcast The Decision on live television as if it were worldwide breaking news in 2010, but as it turns out, the NBA all-star actually raised $2.5 million for the Boys and & Girls Clubs of America from the broadcast and donated $3.5 million from ad revenues to other charities.
2) Devon Still
NFL player Devon Still’s 5-year-old daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma in 2014 with only a 50-50 chance of survival. In an effort to raise funds for pediatric cancer, the Bengals joined the defensive tackle in selling his #75 jersey, raising $400,000 dollars for pediatric cancer research. Still stood in for his daughter last night, accepting an ESPY Award on her behalf. Sadly, Leah was not well enough to walk to the stage herself.
3) Serena Williams
Serena Williams is like a gift that keeps on giving. The dominant female tennis star and recent Wimbledon champ has been involved with a whopping 11 charities, and serves as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Williams has taken multiple trips to Ghana with UNICEF to advocate for better education for children in the developing world… but her generosity doesn’t end there. The female athlete has won numerous awards for her charity work, including the Celebrity Role Model Award from the Avon Foundation for her work fighting breast cancer, and the “Young Heroes Award” for her support of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
4) Tiger Woods
We’re not saying Tiger should necessarily be your favorite athlete. We know he’s made a few… slips, before. But when it comes to charity work, the guy is anything but greedy. Before his infidelity scandal hit the fan, Tiger was quietly funding one of the most generous foundations in professional sports. For nearly twenty years, The Tiger Woods Foundation has raised more than $30 million to help underserved young people make their college dreams a reality. They’ve given grants, internships, and scholarships to kids, and provided young athletes a platform to prepare for college and their future careers at The Tiger Woods Learning Center.
5) Eli Manning
Eli Manning, winner of multiple Super Bowl MVP awards, proves to be selfless on and off the field. When he’s not leading the New York Giants to victory, the 34-year-old athlete makes sure to give back to the community. A dedicated Hurricane Katrina volunteer, the Giants quarterback raised $2.5 million for the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Children’s Hospital, and also donated $1 million to the University of Mississippi’s Ole Miss Opportunity Scholarship fund.
6) Larry Fitzgerald
American football wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, Larry Fitzgerald, actually has his own charity called The Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund. In the past, Fitzgerald traveled to Ethiopia with Anquan Boldin and Oxfam America to help plant trees and work on irrigation projects. The fund has reached out to multiple causes, and donated 1,000 football helmets to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation’s youth football program. Yeah, he’s a pretty cool guy.
7) Derek Jeter
In 1996, Jeter established his Turn 2 foundation, which sought to “create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and ‘TURN 2′ healthy lifestyles.” The program has raised over $19 million dollars since Jeter took the reigns. That’s a lot of cash.
8) David Beckham
If only that smile could actually change the world. Lucky for us, David Beckham takes alternative measures to make a positive difference, besides just being – as Derek Zoolander would say – “really, really, ridiculously good-looking.”
Beckham supports countless charities. The soccer star is also an ambassador for UNICEF alongside Serena Williams, and he helps with the Unite Against AIDS Campaign. Beckham also has his own charity, the Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust, which provides children with wheelchairs, among other causes. If you’re not impressed, you’re not human.
A big thanks to all the athletes that help make this world a better place. Keep doing you, ya’ll, every dollar makes a difference.