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Knicks' RJ Barrett Donates Shoes to Workers, Money to Food Bank amid COVID-19

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2020

New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) is shown in action during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
John Bazemore/Associated Press

New York Knicks rookie guard RJ Barrett has made $250,000 worth of donations in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Kirsten Fleming of the New York Post, which included donating "face masks, disposable face shields, KN95 masks, gowns and microporous disposable coveralls" to New York hospitals.

Barrett said he was compelled to chip in after seeing the sacrifices health care providers were making during the outbreak: 

"I have been following social media and watching the news, seeing how things have been getting drastically worse. What really struck me is all of the workers in the hospital. These people are risking their lives and they go home and stay in the same house as their family and kids. I wanted to see what I could do to help. My mom grew up in Brooklyn. My family is there, and it hit me a little extra harder. We need to protect those workers as much as they are protecting us."

As a part of those efforts, Barrett paired with Puma to donate a thousand pairs of sneakers and slippers to hospitals in New York and Canada. He also donated $100,000 to the Mississauga food bank in Ontario, Canada. 

"I just spoke to them and they said the donation was going to be able to provide 200,000 meals and that put a smile on my face," Barrett told Fleming.

Finally, he gave $25,000 to MSG Relief Fund to help support the workers at Madison Square Garden. 

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"I love playing at Madison Square Garden. I am cool with the security guards. Everyone that works at MSG, they take care of me so much," Barrett said. "I thought about all they do for us. They are such amazing people."

The 19-year-old rookie was having a solid first season for the Knicks, averaging 14.3 points, five rebounds and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 40.2 percent from the field and 32 percent from three. While he wasn't among the front-runners for Rookie of the Year—that award will likely go to Memphis point guard Ja Morant—he's shown promise in his first season.

And while the NBA has been suspended due to the coronavirus, he's stayed in touch with his teammates. 

"I speak to my teammates and we try to check in," he said. "Especially with the New York staff. Everyone seems to be doing OK and trying to see how we can help. We all really miss playing basketball."

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