It’s no secret that many professional athletes make ludicrous amounts of money. While some are content to play on their teams and stay out of the spotlight for the most part, there are many athletes who are on par with A-List celebrities in terms of their lifestyles and salaries. The athletes who drop huge amounts of cash on lavish houses, expensive cars, and VIP events often get the most attention, as they become a staple of tabloids.
However, there are also many athletes who spend huge amounts of cash on items that are a little less consumer based and a lot more charitable. Whether they founded their own organization, are ardent supporters of a particular organization or charity, or merely give generous amounts to a whole slew of organizations, many athletes are extremely charitable with their whopping salaries. They realize they live a fairly privileged life and are very conscious of that, making sure to often give back to those less fortunate.
Some athletes take their charitable responsibilities as a surface thing, merely showing up to events periodically to get some good press. However, there are athletes who are completely dedicated to their charitable endeavours, athletes who work tirelessly to support the organizations they believe in, not only by writing cheques but by being involved in the process.
Here are 25 athletes in a wide range of sports who have shown the world exactly how generous and charitable some athletes can be.
25 25. Carmelo Anthony
Anthony set up his charity, the Carmelo Anthony Foundation, in 2005. His foundation seeks to give back to the community by providing programs and help for disadvantaged youths. He has also hosted or helped organize a variety of events that benefit the youth of the community, and has donated to the Living Classrooms Foundation.
24 Eli Manning
Manning has shown his support for the March of Dimes, the Red Cross, and Phoenix House. His most dedicated charitable effort, however, hits closer to his alma mater in Mississippi. In 2007, Manning put forth a five year campaign on behalf of the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children where he promised to try to raise $2.5 million for the hospital.
23 Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald has shown his support for a variety of charities including Oxfam, USAID, and the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center. He also established the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund, which helps children by providing funding for positive activities such as youth football camps and supporting children in crisis as well as health-related organizations that deal with families. In honor of his mother Carol, he also set up the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund which provides support to charitable causes that Fitzgerald’s mother believed in.
22 Tiger Woods
While Tiger Woods has gotten a lot of bad press for his womanizing tendencies, it can’t be ignored that he has made a lot of generous charitable efforts over the course of his career. He has supported Caddy for a Cure, the Rainforest Foundation Fund, and Shriners Hospitals for Children, as well as attaching his own name to charitable efforts such as the Tiger Woods Foundation and the Tiger Woods Learning Center.
21 Charles Tillman
Tillman’s charitable efforts were ignited by something very close to his heart – his daughter, Tiana. When she was only three months old, Tiana was diagnosed with a rare heart disease for which she eventually got a heart transplant. The experience led Tillman to devote himself to help other sick children in Chicago, as his own daughter was helped, and he eventually established the Charles Tillman Cornerstone Foundation.
20 Nnamdi Asomugha
Asomugha is just as amazing off the field as he was on the field. He is chairman of the Asomugha Foundation, which is responsible for two incredible charitable programs: the Asomugha College Tour for Scholars program, where he takes youths on college tours, all expenses paid, and the Orphans and Widows in Need Foundation, which helps provide aid to orphans and widows in Nigeria. Asomugha also wrote a mandate into his Nike contract that provides the Narbonne High School (his alma mater) football and basketball team with shoes.
19 Tim Tebow
Tebow’s name is synonymous with Christianity, so it seems somewhat expected that he incorporates charitable efforts into his life – it’s what a good Christian would do. Tebow is responsible for the Tim Tebow Foundation, which is attempting to build a hospital in the Philippines in partnership with CURE International.
18 Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw established Kershaw’s Challenge after he visited Africa with his wife during a Christian mission. Inspired by a child named Hope, he combined his desire to help Hope and children like her with his baseball skills and designed the concept of “Striking out to Serve.” He encourages individuals to give back with whatever skills, passion, or purpose they have, like his skill at baseball.
17 Serena Williams
Williams supports numerous charitable organizations, amongst them the Common Ground Foundation, Build African Schools, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Eva Longoria Foundation, Hearts of Gold, and more. She has also been named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
16 Derek Jeter
Newly retired baseball superstar Derek Jeter has supported several charities throughout his time as an athlete including Soles4Souls, Stand Up To Cancer, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. However, he is perhaps best known for the Turn 2 Foundation, which he himself established in 1996. Turn 2 seeks to help youths avoid drug and alcohol addiction and to reward academic achievement.
15 Lance Armstrong
Armstrong is best known for the foundation that formerly his name, the Livestrong Foundation (formerly the Lance Armstrong Foundation). He has been involved with Livestrong for many years and even ran the New York Marathon to support the Foundation. He also supports charities such as Athletes for Hope, Augie’s Quest, the Jeff Gordon’s Children Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer, the Tony Hawk Foundation, The Miami Project, and more.
14 Andy Roddick
In keeping with the tradition of many athletes who establish foundations and name them after themselves, Roddick founded the Andy Roddick Foundation, which seeks to raise funds for children who experience neglect, abuse, or illness, in 2000. He has also shown support for the Bryan Bros. Foundation, City Harvest, the Willow Foundation, and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
13 LeBron James
Basketball superstar LeBron James is behind the LeBron James Family Foundation, whose mission is to provide a positive effect in the lives of youths through education and educational initiatives. They’ve been responsible for the initiatives Wheels for Education, the LeBron Advisory Board, and more. James has also supported the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Gabrielle’s Angel Foundation, the Children’s Defense Fund, and After-School All-Stars.
12 Albert Pujols
Pujols is the founder and chairman of The Pujols Family Foundation, an organization that seeks to help individuals with Down syndrome, individuals living with disabilities or life threatening disabilities, and families and children living in poverty in the Dominican Republic.
11 Michael Phelps
At the Beijing Olympics, Phelps won his 8th gold medal at the time and received a $1 million bonus from Speedo. Rather than spending the money foolishly, he invested it in founding the Michael Phelps Foundation, which promotes active lifestyles in children and currently offers three programs (im, Level Field Fund-Swimming, and Caps-for-a-Cause). Phelps has also supported organizations such as the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center and Bid 2 Beat AIDS.
10 Brett Favre
In 2010, Favre combined his Brett Favre Fourward Foundation with his wife Deanna’s charity and created the Favre 4 Hope Foundation. The foundation has donated over $3 million to charities in Wisconsin and Favre’s native Mississippi.
9 Roger Federer
Federer has supported a wide range of charities including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Mines Advisory Group, the Small Steps Project, and the Humpty Dumpty Foundation. Not content to merely give generously to charities other individuals were running, he also established his own – the Roger Federer Foundation. Taking a cue from Federer’s own athletic life, his foundation seeks to foster education, leisure activities, and sports in locations where little funding is available. He is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
8 Jeff Gordon
Perhaps the most charitable guy in Nascar, Gordon established his own Jeff Gordon Foundation, which seeks to help programs supporting children with cancer find funding. Due to his passion for helping cure pediatric cancer, he also established a Children’s Hospital in North Carolina. Gordon has also shown his support for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Partners in Health, Soles4Souls, Athletes for Hope, and the American Association of Retired Persons.
7 Andre Agassi
Agassi is a charitable superstar who has supported or helped found a variety of charities. The one most closely linked to him is the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education, which seeks to provide educational and recreational opportunities for at-risk youths, and the Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation, which . He also helped found Athletes for Hope alongside several fellow athletes. He has also contributed to Hearts of Gold, Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, the Small Steps Project, The Miami Project, the Tony Hawk Foundation, Education Africa, and more.
6 Tom Brady
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has supported charities such as the Entertainment Industry Foundation, KaBOOM!, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and perhaps the charity he’s most known for supporting, Best Buddies International.
5 Alex Smith
Smith established the Alex Smith Foundation, which since its inception in 2005 has helped countless foster teens succeed and thrive due to scholarships that provide everything from tuition to books to housing and living expenses. Smith has donated huge amounts of his own money, as well as his time, to the foundation. He has lobbied for changes to the child-welfare system, spoken at conferences explaining his foundation, and even partnered with other organizations such as Cornerstones of Care in his new home of Kansas City. His foundation has even been praised by the Boston Globe for giving so much of its funds (91%) to its cause, as opposed to the minimum of 65-75% that non-profit specialists say is a requirement.
4 Peyton Manning
In 1999, Manning established the PeyBack Foundation, which seeks to provide leadership and growth opportunities to youths at risk in order to promote their future success. Not content to be a mere figurehead, Manning is the foundation’s president and constantly plays an active role. PeyBack has given over $10 million in grants and programs in Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Manning has also supported the Red Cross in his charitable efforts.
3 David Beckham
Beckham is notorious for his soccer prowess, but he should perhaps be better known for his charitable endeavours. He established his own charity, the Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust, and was a founding member of the Malaria No More UK Leadership Council. He was also appointed a UNICEF ambassador. He supports a variety of charities as well, including Help for Heroes, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Sport Relief, the Red Cross, and many more.
2 Drew Brees
Over the years Brees has cultivated the reputation of a clean cut, all-American good guy, and his charitable efforts prove that impression isn’t too far from the truth. Brees established the Dream Foundation, which worked with Operation Kids to rebuild schools and athletic facilities in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He’s also contributed his star power to campaigns raising awareness for a variety of issues, from teen struggles to environmental problems.
1 Dikembe Mutombo
He has supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation, HOPE Worldwide, FACE Africa, the ONE Campaign, Right to Play, and UNICEF. He was also recognized as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador in 2012. He also founded the Dijembe Mutombo Foundation in 1997, an organization that seeks to provide help to individuals in his native nation, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though he is long retired from basketball, he is perhaps as well known for his charitable work over the years as for his basketball career and has won countless accolades for his humanitarianism. He has received a personal invitation to the 2007 State of the Union Address, the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Goodermote Humanitarian Award, and much more. One of the biggest accomplishment of his Foundation was the construction of the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in Kinasha, the Congolese capital and Mutombo’s hometown.