10 Altruistic Individuals in Sports

Tim GrovesCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2011

10 Altruistic Individuals in Sports

0 of 11

    WINSTON SALEM, NC - JANUARY 22:  A general view of the mascot of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their game against the Duke Blue Devils at Lawrence Joel Coliseum on January 22, 2011 in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty I
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Tom Walter, the baseball coach for Wake Forest, recently donated his kidney to freshman recruit Kevin Jordan.  Jordan had yet to even play for the team.

    He committed to play for the Demon Deacons and was later drafted in Round 19 by the New York Yankees in the amateur draft.  Shortly after, he was diagnosed with ANCA vasculitis. 

    The condition caused the white blood cells in his body to attack healthy tissue.  It left his kidneys functioning at only eight percent.

    After it was determined that no one in Jordan's family was suitable for a donation, Walter stepped up to the plate.  Walter discovered that he was a match and decided to donate his kidney to Jordan.

    Which other professional athletes or coaches have gone beyond the call of duty?  Which other athletes inspired those around them to do more?  Flip through the slideshow to look at ten altruistic individuals in the history of sports.

10. Dana White, UFC President

1 of 11

    NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 13:  Dana White, UFC President, speaks during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden on January 13, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Cohen
    Michael Cohen/Getty Images

    Once you get past the swearing and typical promotional jargon spewed out by White, you tend to find out that the UFC president has a really big heart.

    White has a history of donations and charities that he has put together over the course of his career with UFC. 

    He raised $25,000 for Haiti after the disaster last year.  He donated $10,000 of his own money to help a young girl dealing with brain tumors.  He even once paid for a speeding ticket because the fan was trying to get to a UFC event on time.

    Couple all of this with UFC's continued generosity and you can see why White has a much bigger heart than many people would believe.

9. Ron Artest, L.A. Lakers

2 of 11

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 30:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics and Ron Artest #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers fight for position in the second half at Staples Center on January 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Celtics defeated the Lakers 109-9
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Sure, Ron Artest has his past history of brawls and confrontations, but he has still given back off the court.

    Artest recently drew media attention when he auctioned off his NBA championship ring, something he held dearly, in support of mental health charities.  He raised almost $700,000.

    If that wasn't enough, Artest has also openly talked about donating his salary for one year to help raise awareness and support for those with mental health issues.  Artest hopes that others in the NBA will follow suit. 

8. David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs

3 of 11

    SAN ANTONIO - JUNE 10:  Former San Antonio Spurs player David Robinson cheers on his former team in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Two of the 2007 NBA Finals on June 10, 2007 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    David Robinson began his college basketball career in a unique place—the United States Naval Academy.  After completing his four years of schooling and three years of service, he finally entered the NBA.

    Robinson's first act of altruism began when he visited fifth-graders at a local San Antonio school.  He promised to donate $2,000 to every child there who would graduate and go on to college. 

    When it came time for them to graduate, Robinson not only kept his promise, but upped it.  He donated $8,000 to every single one that was going on to college.

    Robinson and his wife also created the Carver Academy.  They have donated over $11 million to the academy so far. 

7. Arthur Ashe, Tennis

4 of 11

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 14:  Atmospher onstage during the Arthur Ashe Courage Award presentation during the 2010 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 14, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Ashe didn't donate millions of dollars or auction off any special trophies, but he did provide courage and leadership to a whole generation of individuals.

    Ashe was a passionate civil rights supporter.  He was the first African American to win a Grand Slam event.  He used his athletic achievements and visibility to campaign heavily for his cause. 

    The tennis great was also a part of a delegation of 31 African Americans who took time to visit South Africa during its time of racial upheaval. 

    Outside of preaching for civil rights and equality, Ashe also founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, which helped deal with poor health-care delivery.

    Today, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is given yearly at the ESPY's to an athlete who "best exhibits courage in the face of adversity."

6. Jimmy Valvano, NC State Coach

5 of 11

    Jimmy Valvano was once best known for his crazed celebration after winning the 1983 NCAA Championship. 

    That changed with the speech shown above.

    Valvano changed lives and touched souls when he gave the speech at the 1993 ESPY's.  His ongoing battle with cancer and his fiery passion helped draw a new level of awareness to the deadly disease.

    Valvano died a mere eight weeks after he gave his passionate speech.  Since then, millions have donated in his name to help find a cure.

    He helped create The Jimmy V Foundation in conjunction with ESPN to raise money for cancer research. 

5. Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

6 of 11

    ATLANTA - DECEMBER 14: Onwer Arthur Blank (left) returns the helmet of running back Warrick Dunn #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia. Dunn lost his helmet during a tackle on the sidelines near Blank
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    With a sport that has boasted such notorious figures as Lawrence Taylor and O.J. Simpson, it's refreshing to see someone like Warrick Dunn step into the limelight.

    The diminutive running back from Florida State helped create the Warrick Dunn Foundation and the "Homes for the Holidays" program.  Both are tasked with helping single-parents purchase homes.

    Dunn provides a down payment for each home, while sponsors furnish and outfit them. 

    Since the program's inception, 93 single-parents and 250 dependents have become homeowners. 

    Dunn started the program to help single-parents realize the dream that his mother never could—owning a home.

4. Lance Armstrong, Cycling

7 of 11

    ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22:  Lance Armstrong of the USA and Team Radio Shack competes during Stage Five of the 2011 Tour Down Under on January 22, 2011 in Adelaide, Australia.  (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)
    Morne de Klerk/Getty Images

    Lance Armstrong's charitable work should need no explanation. 

    After his courageous story of overcoming cancer to win the Tour De France, Armstrong launched the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  The goal of the organization is to support people affected by cancer.

    It has raised more than $325 million from the sale of LIVESTRONG bracelets alone.

    To this day, Armstrong continues to raise awareness and funds to help fund cancer research.

3. Dikembe Mutombo, Houston Rockets

8 of 11

    ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 10:  US basketball legend Dikembe Mutombo poses with his award for 'Sport For Good '  in the Awards room during the Laureus World Sports Awards 2010 at Emirates Palace Hotel on March 10, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Ar
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    The shot-blocking legend has donated his time, money and efforts throughout his career to better his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

    He started the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which aimed to help improve the living conditions in his native country.  Mutombo was instrumental in the "Basketball Without Borders" promotion, which worked to spread the game throughout Africa while also improving the infrastructure around the continent. 

    Mutombo's most charitable donation was the eventual creation of the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in the Congolese capital of Kinshasa.  Mutombo donated $3.5 million to begin the project back in 2001.  Unfortunately, the project had trouble receiving outside donations and sat dormant for a number of years.

    In 2006, Mutombo donated another $15 million towards the completion of the project.  It opened in September of 2006. 

    It was the first modern medical facility built in the area in more than 40 years.

2. Manute Bol, Golden State Warriors

9 of 11

    1988:  Manute Bol #10 of the Golden State Warriors looks to shoot during an NBA game in the 1988-89 season. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditi
    Ken Levine/Getty Images

    The Sudanese-born Bol donated the majority of the money he made during his playing career to help his war-ravaged country.

    Bol regularly visited refugee camps throughout Sudan, offering food and encouragement to those living there.

    He eventually founded the Ring True Foundation, which helped raise funds for Sudanese refugees. 

    Once his career in the NBA ended, Bol participated in celebrity boxing, ice hockey and horse racing in the hopes of gaining greater awareness for the plight of those in Sudan. 

    He donated practically everything he made to help those back in his native country.

1. Pat Tillman, Arizona Cardinals

10 of 11

    4 Oct 1998:  Safety Pat Tillman #40 of the Arizona Cardinals looks on during a game against the Oakland Raiders at the Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The Raiders defeated the Cardinals 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw  /Allsport
    Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    You can argue about the war until you're blue in the face.  You can agree wholeheartedly or disagree vehemently.  But regardless of your opinion, it's clear that Pat Tillman sacrificed it all.

    Tillman was an NFL player who walked away from everything—the money, fame and women—just to join the military at the outbreak of the War on Terrorism.  While serving, he was killed due to friendly fire.

    Tillman gave his life to a cause that he believed was just and honorable.  He gave up the millions of dollars he was owed because he thought he was needed.  Unfortunately, he also gave up his life.

    And that's the ultimate sacrifice.

    This is only one list of athletes who have given back.  I will have undoubtedly missed some who have gone above and beyond what was expected of them.  Leave those athletes below in the comments.

11 of 11
    slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

    Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!