One could only imagine how many more lives Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente would have touched if not for a plane crash during his humanitarian mission to Nicaragua in 1972. Only 38 at the time of his death, Clemente was a leader in helping others during the 1960s and early 1970s, providing food and clothing to people in his native Puerto Rico and throughout Latin America.
Former NBA all-star center Dikembe Mutombo was celebrated for blocking shots. He should be praised more for building a hospital in Africa.
Once considered a bad boy on the court, tennis champion Andre Agassi has been a shining role model off of it through his educational foundation. The winner of eight singles grand slams titles, Aggasi says his foundation is more meaningful than all his championships combined.
Ali, Mutombo, Agassi — Mitchell is proud to be on the front lines with them. But with the U.S. unemployment rate still high, the world economy potentially on the verge of collapse and so much illness to cure, there’s an endless supply of people in need.
The concept of doing for others less fortunate shouldn’t only be limited to superstar athletes. Anyone is capable of extending a hand. It’s just that athletes have the ability to persuade more people to put theirs in as well.
“For a lot of ballplayers, especially the young guys, there’s a tendency to get hung up on the fact that they make a lot of money,” Mitchell said. “And making a lot of money, for some people, does not jibe with giving of yourself.
“But when you’re a star and you’re making money, you’ve got to give back. And not just with your money, but with your time. You’ve got to do it for one reason: It’s the right thing to do.”
Mitchell’s sleeves will remain rolled up. He’s hoping their conscience will lead more athletes to like the look.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.