A beloved urban pop culture icon and true hero to millions of basketball fans since his glory days as one of the fabled “Fab Five” at the University of Michigan in the early 90s, Jalen Rose was known throughout his storied 13-year NBA career as “The Natural” for his ability to master multiple positions on the court—point guard, shooting guard and small forward.
The charismatic 6’8” Detroit native, who skipped his senior year at the University of Michigan to launch his professional career with the Denver Nuggets in 1994, may have earned his colorful nickname for fulfilling his lifelong hoop dreams, but it applies equally well to his success as a world class philanthropist, ESPN/ABC broadcaster, analyst and show host and as one of the sporting world’s most idolized fashion icons. Inspired by his childhood hero, basketball superstar and business mogul Magic Johnson, Jalen—who helped revolutionize the Pacers teams in the 90’s which went on to three straight eastern conference finals and won the east in 2000, and concluded his NBA career with the Phoenix Suns, in which the team ended up at the Western Conference Semi-finals in 2007--is branching out beyond his roots, exploring his passions for music, film, politics, sports and fashion, and in the process, quickly becoming a multi-media sensation.
While many basketball stars make the transition to the small screen after they hang up their basketball kicks, Jalen made the bold leap in the midst of his career, becoming a multi-faceted reporter and on-air personality for Fox Sports Net’s famed “Best Damn Sports Show Period” in his seventh season with the Chicago Bulls in 2002. In addition to covering the NBA Finals since 2002—interviewing a variety of superstars and entertainers such as Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg, Denzel Washington, Kid Rock, Bill Russell, Kobe Bryant, and Stevie Wonder, to name a few—he reported on everything from the Bernard Hopkins-Oscar De La Hoya middleweight fight to the 2006 Olympics USA basketball team to the MTV Awards and ESPY Awards. Working with the “Best Damn Sports Show Period” for six years, the budding broadcast star developed his own lifestyle-oriented “Jammin’ With Jalen” segment, where he would rant about the goings on in the fashion world, current events, music, movies, etc. During his time with “Best Damn…,” he also scored regular gigs on “Cold Pizza” and the “James Brown Radio Show;” and did interviews for outlets like ABC, ESPN, TNT and MSNBC—all while starring on the courts for the Chicago Bulls (2002-04), Toronto Raptors (2004-06), New York Knicks (2005-06) and Phoenix Suns (2006-07).
Shortly after retiring from basketball, Jalen—a mass communications major at U of M who ultimately earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland University College --went full throttle pursuing his passion in the multi-media, sports and entertainment world, signing with ESPN/ABC as a broadcaster and studio analyst. Covering a wide range of current events in the landscape of sports, he’s appeared on the network’s flagship shows “Sportscenter,” “Mike and Mike In The Morning,” “First Take,” and ESPNews, as well as the NBA-related shows “Fast Break” and “Shootaround.” Most recently, Jalen extensively covered the Lakers vs. Celtics 2008 NBA Finals. While working with the worldwide leader in sports television, Jalen will appear in-studio and on radio regularly on their family of networks, which includes ESPN2, podcasts, web blogs for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.
While fans are tuning in to hear Jalen share his basketball knowledge and insight, they’re also excited about checking out his latest formal or casual wear ensemble. So renowned for his fashion sense on and off the court that “Hoop Magazine” enlisted him as their Style Editor. The trendsetting celeb has been making waves since his “Fab Five” days at U of M, when he and his fellow All-Americans Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson bucked tradition and wore baggy uniform shorts, black shoes and black socks. This vibe seems mainstream now, but in the early 90s was considered revolutionary. Fans still talk about the buzz Jalen created when he showed up at the 1994 NBA draft in a red and white pinstripe suit.
“Fashion is all about confidence in your look and yourself. What really makes your outfit are the accents you wear beyond the jacket, pants and shirt,” Jalen says. “How you put it together is something you develop. Dressing the part is growing into an understanding of your style. It’s about the right clothes for your size and some experimentation; and when you look in the mirror and it speaks to you, go with it.”
In 2000, while winning the NBA’s “Most Improved Player Award” and helping lead the Larry Bird-coached Pacers to the NBA Finals against the Lakers, Jalen began giving back to his beloved hometown, as well as his NBA home, by creating the Jalen Rose Foundation. The foundation is devoted to distributing grants for sports and education related causes for at risk youth. Recurring programs include: an endowed scholarship at The University of Michigan, five $10,000 college scholarships for Detroit high school students, financial support for Team Michigan AAU (in which Jalen was a former player and is current head coach) and a charity ticket section called “The Rose Garden,” that was started in Chicago and will continue this year at U of M home games providing underprivileged children with the opportunity to attend a collegiate sporting event. Jalen, who led his team at Southwestern High School to three Public School League Championships, three City championships, two State championships and the USA Today National Championship, designates a minimum of one college scholarship for a student from his alma mater Southwestern High School.
The Jalen Rose Foundation, which in 2007 passed the $1 million mark in charitable donations--made a generous endowment of $240,000 to Jalen’s alma mater, the University of Michigan, to ensure that the foundation will always have a student at the U of M. The Jalen Rose Endowed Scholarship is available to a first year student with special consideration for those who come from Michigan and either resides in an inner city area. Beyond the educational realm, the Foundation has donated substantial amounts to the development of a children’s hospital in the Congo, Africa, as well as victims’ assistance programs for those affected by Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 Tsunami disaster in Asia.
“Growing up as a child in a single parent home, my family faced a lot of hardships,” says Jalen, whose mother Jeanne raised him, two older brothers and one sister on a keypuncher’s salary at Chrysler for more than 20 years. “Being raised this way, I learned to appreciate the things I had and not worry too much about the things I didn’t have or anything out of my control. I knew that I probably wouldn’t get 90 percent of what I put on my Christmas wish list and I know what it’s like to not have heat and hot water. But my mom gave us the more important things. She taught me to be a God-fearing man, the importance of humility, a strong work ethic, discipline and a toughness and willingness to fight through all kinds of adversity. Those virtues were invaluable to me whether I was on the court or in the classroom, and they’re the foundation of everything I do now. It’s important that people with influential roles in society take the initiative to help others in need. I hope that my charity efforts motivate others to get more actively involved in their communities.”
Jalen’s renown as one of basketball’s top philanthropists has earned him recognition by “The Sporting News” as an “NBA Good Guy” several times and honors from “Black Enterprise Magazine” as the only athlete atop their individual donor list of “America's Leading Black Philanthropists” (along with Oprah Winfrey, Robert Johnson & others); he also received NBA Community Assist accolades on two occasions. Following in his idol's footsteps, Jalen also received The “2003 Magic Johnson Award,” which is given to the NBA player who best combines the attributes of the legendary Lakers Hall of Famer: excellence on the basketball court, cooperation with the media and public/community service. Recently, “OT Magazine” recognized the Jalen Rose Foundation as one of the Top 25 Sports Foundations in America.
Despite his substantial achievements on and off the courts, Rose is keenly aware that his mark on our culture will in some ways always be defined as a member of the “Fab Five” at U of M, where he and his teammates revolutionized the sport of basketball. Playing point guard as his team went down in history as the best freshman class and only NCAA team to ever start five freshman, Jalen—the most outspoken of the Five and their official leader-- set a scoring record his first year of 597 points. One of only two players in the college’s history to score 1,500 points, 400 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals, he was named to the All-Big Ten First Team and the AP All-American Second Team. During Jalen’s time there (1991-94), the Wolverines made back to back NCAA Championship game appearances and he won team MVP honors during his freshman and junior years; he also received the Leadership award for his sophomore season.
Drafted 13th by Denver, he was a member of the All-Rookie Team in 1994-95 and played in the “Rookie Challenge” in 1994. While with Indiana, Jalen earned NBA “Player of the Week” honors and was named the NBA’s “Most Improved Player.” After being named Bulls “Player of the Year” in Chicago, the NBA recognized him as “NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week” for his amazing performance with the Raptors; and one of his greatest thrills was playing three years for one of his idols and mentors, NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird, on the revitalized Pacers team in the late 90s.
Jalen had a grand total of 13,220 points (an average of 14.3 per game), 3,527 assists (3.8 per game) and 2,695 rebounds (3.5 per game). He became the first player in eight years, other than Reggie Miller, to lead the team in scoring in the 1999-2000 season when he averaged 18.2 points per game for the eventual Eastern Conference Champions (the only time the Pacers has won the Eastern Conference crown). He also helped lead them to the Eastern Conference Championship in 2000, and averaged 23 points per game in the six game Finals series, including two 30-plus point efforts. Jalen’s NBA career includes a storied night vs. Philadelphia in which he and Hall of Famer Reggie Miller became a part of playoff history eclipsing 40 points in the same playoff game in 2002, which has only been done a few times in NBA history.
“I’m very proud of what I accomplished in the NBA,” he says, “but I’m even more excited to be acknowledged as someone who has done so much more beyond that, especially my media career and my work with the foundation. These days, I’m enjoying just being a chameleon and embracing these great opportunities as they come along. Still, looking back, nothing is bigger than being part of the ‘Fab Five,’ when we changed the game and made history. Every night was like Oscar night.”
Then with a smile, Jalen Rose, truly a self-made phenomenon of his time and a Renaissance man of the 2000s, says, “The rest of my life now is been about setting goals and striving to achieve them. And I’m having a blast!”
More than simply a U.S Olympian “going for the gold” once again in 2018, Kelly Gunther – currently training at the Utah Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City – is a survivor, a symbol of hope when all seems lost, an intense and dedicated, hard working young woman who is a true testament to the power of the human spirit, and a dreamer passionate about inspiring the dreams of others.
Kelly’s truly the girl next door, a “girly girl” who loves to laugh, do her hair and makeup and go to movies with friends. But to many, she’s also an inspiration, a humble but incredible “superhero” both on and off the ice. In early 2014, just before traveling to Sochi to participate in the Women’s 1,000 meter, the hard-driving speed skater captured the essence of her life’s mission in a prominent article about her participation in the Winter Games. “I want to tell my story to show people they should never give up,” she said. “Never lose hope in your dreams.”
More than simply words, Kelly’s story, in all of its multi-faceted complexities, is the embodiment of courage and determination. If there are odds, she will defy them – which is why, despite everything she’s been through, she’s got her sights set on making the 2018 U.S. team in PyeongChang, South Korea, and has added the 1,500 meter race to her training regimen.
Though she didn’t return home from Sochi with a medal, Kelly’s inclusion on the 2014 team was a true mountaintop experience, a feat many would call a miracle (medical and otherwise) in itself after four of the most grueling years of her life. At the 2010 Olympic trials, the Lorain, Ohio native’s lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian seemed to be coming true. After years of sacrifice and training, Kelly appeared to make the U.S. speed skating team after qualifying for the fourth and final spot in the 1,000 meters with a time of 1:17.12. An odd quirk in the qualification process, however, allowed a fellow skater who fell during her race to skate it again. On the second try, that skater bested Kelly’s time – booting her from the team.
Two months after this heartbreak, just after the team returned from Vancouver, Kelly slipped going into a corner during a race and suffered a potentially career ending double-compound fracture that nearly severed her foot from her leg. As she has described the intense injury, “I was laying there on the ice numb, but I could feel my foot hanging off my leg.” Her surgeon told her she would never be able to skate again – truly a spiritual form of death for the girl who fell in love with Olympic skating watching figure skater Tara Lipinski win the gold in 1998. Later, she found out there had even been a chance her leg might have to be amputated.
“When it first happened, as I was laying there, something in my mind switched on and I thought, ‘I’m alive, I’m okay, I’m not dying and there are people who are dying in the world so things could be much worse,” Kelly says. “In the ambulance, I asked the paramedics if they thought I would be able to skate again and they laughed because it seemed so obvious that the answer was no. I didn’t give up then, and I didn’t feel hopeless when my surgeon gave me his opinion of my prospects to return. I just took it upon myself to find the fun in skating again, even against the odds, and now looking back, I know I would never trade the experience because it’s not only made me stronger, it’s made me who I am today.”
The six months of rehab at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs were difficult – as Kelly had never not worn skates for this long since she put on her first pair at age six. Her intense recovery schedule involved rehab sessions twice a day every day, and slowly she was able to move her toes and eventually her whole foot. The injury happened in March, she started sessions at the beginning of July and by October she could put her skates on. When she returned to competitive skating, Kelly set two personal best times in November 2011, made the 2011-2012 World Cup team and placed third in the 1000 meters at the 2011-2012 national championships. At the 2014 U.
S. Olympic trials, she skated a personal best time of 1:16.43 in the 1000 meters for a fourth place finish and a spot on the U.S. team.
As she worked towards her once seemingly impossible goal of making the Olympic team, Kelly began sharing her story with young people and realized that there was perhaps a higher inspirational purpose to the emotional and physical suffering she had determinedly steamrolled through. Among other appearances, she returned to her alma mater, Chippewa High School in Clinton Township, Michigan, to give a speech. After Sochi, she spoke to members of a 5K training organization called Girls on the Run in Detroit.
During this time, inspired by one of her old high school teachers, Kelly felt free for the first time to open up about something beyond her overcoming the obstacles to pursue her Olympic dreams. She didn’t want to keep her learning disability, which kept her in special ed classes during her school years, a secret anymore. She had a severe reading problem, for one thing, and was crushed to realize that she would never be book-smart enough to attend an Ivy League school. But she had skating as her passion, her refuge, the talent that set her apart and gave her something to strive for. “I had my skating,” she says, “and I used it to my advantage. I may not have turned out as smart as I wanted to be, but in life there are book smarts and street smarts, and from all of my life experiences, I have a lot of the latter.”
Kelly also began sharing some of the hardship she faced growing up with a single mom. The two moved from their original home in Ohio to Michigan, where Kelly’s mom worked as a caseworker and ran a cleaning service. After Kelly’s inline skating practices, they cleaned empty buildings at night. Her mother’s devotion to her daughter’s dream and the sacrifices she has made, along with injuries and botched surgery that has entailed left her, left her in financial straits.
Kelly began sharing these stories so that people knew the totality of her life’s journey. As she works towards 2018, she wants to inspire as many people as possible to never give up no matter the physical and emotional challenges, setbacks and roadblocks. “I remember after my talk at my high school, a girl came up to me who was a special ed student and told me how much I inspired her,” she says “She faced a lot of difficulties, but what I said gave her the courage to keep moving forward. Knowing that I touched someone’s life like that was such a blessing and helps me understand the good that has come out of what seemed to be tragic or hopeless situations. If my story can give hope to others, I feel I’ve accomplished something great even when I’m not wearing skates!”
For now, however, Kelly’s wearing those skates every day, training at the Oval, and looking ahead to getting back on the World Cup circuit, competing around the world to prepare her for the Olympic trials – and another shot at the U.S. team and this time, a gold medal. “I’m driven now by the same thing that has driven me since I made the switch from other forms of skating to what I do now when I was a kid – the thrill for speed,” she says. “I always loved going fast and now I just want to go faster. I know I overcame a great deal just to make the team in 2014, and that was definitely a wonderful achievement. But I’ve dreamed about winning a gold medal since I was a little girl, and I know in my heart I’m not finished, but getting started on another exciting journey. Everything I’ve been through is preparation and motivation for what I’m doing now. I will keep pushing forward and will not give up till I get where I am destined to be.”
ROSE BOWL AND SUPER BOWL CHAMP
KIM HERRING NOW COACHES YOUNG ATHLETES
AT TRINITY SPORTS PERFORMANCE
The Ex-Safety’s Facility, The Only One Of Its Kind
In The Orlando Area, Focuses On Resistance Speed,
Agility, Fitness Goals and Proper Nutritional Choices
Former NFL safety Kim Herring may be the only player in NFL history to appear in two consecutive Super Bowls with two different teams. A second round draft pick in 1997, he had an interception in the Baltimore Ravens’ 34-7 win over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, then after signing as a free agent in the offseason to St. Louis, was on the losing end of the Rams 20-17 defeat to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI the following season.
The Detroit native’s nine years in the NFL makes it easy to overlook his brilliant career at Penn State, where he was part of the undefeated team that won the 1995 Rose Bowl and became team captain, a first team All-American and All Big Ten—and finished as the #4 career interception leader in school history with 13.
An inspirational statement from his coach at Penn State, the legendary Joe Paterno, is prominently displayed on the wall of – and perfectly defines the philosophy behind Trinity Sports Performance; a 6,800 square foot, state of the art private training facility owned by Herring and his wife Marissa, in Winter Garden, Florida.
Paterno said: “The will to win is important but the will to prepare is vital.”Trinity Sports Performance, whose performance coaches work with children ages 13 through college, and its subsidiary facility Garage Mama Fitness; which caters to adults, has grown literally from an informal start up in the corner of the Herrings’ three car garage in Miami in 2008 to the Orlando area’s premier training and performance center. It is now Winter Garden’s #1 fitness facility, voted one of Southwest Orlando’s Best New Businesses of 2013.
Dedicated to changing the lives of young athletes and be positive role models, Trinity Sports Performance is focused on helping helping individuals and groups making healthy lifestyle changes by reaching and maintaining fitness goals. In line with Herring’s degree in nutritional science, he and his staff also teach their kids how to make proper nutritional choices.
The facility offers an array of classes ranging from small crew, power training, mens elite class and youth sports training.Herring, who specializes in resistance speed and agility training for all sports, strength and conditioning and biometric skills development. The facility features an indoor turf field, plate loaded machines, free weights, selectorized machines, ballet bar, an outdoor training space among other state of the art fitness equipment.
The Herrings’ search for a facility for Garage Mama Fitness grew into a larger plan for a performance center in a region that surprisingly was lacking such facilities. One of Herring’s inspirations was Tom Shaw, former Patriots strength and conditioning coach whose Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness Training Program is a leader in performance enhancement. That same training was not represented for the needs of the younger athlete, so he decided to start his own.
Trinity’s philosophy is simple: Provide athletes with the most effective, up to date education, training techniques, technology and coaching in a motivating, engaging training environment and creating unmatched results. Their elite staff of performance coaches serves as mentors and ambassadors for athletic performance. This philosophy expands into the array of services the facility provides its athletes: Strength, Speed, agility, quickness, flexibility, recovery, sports nutrition and vitamin supplementation . They prioritize athletic life skills such as leadership, accountability and goal setting to enhance overall character.
These are the foundational programs that help Herring’s facility achieve its goal of “taking your game to the next level.” Though athletic training is the core of Trinity’s work, the staff is also dealing on a mental level with the goals and dreams of these young athletes; from those who just want to make their team, to those who want to start for the team, earn all-conference or a college scholarship. As the facility advertises itself, “We have trained with all. From the 13 year old young athlete that hasn’t learned yet how to run properly, or doesn’t yet match adequate strength up to a professional athlete playing in the Super Bowl, our team has trained athletes to PERFORM AT THEIR BEST.”
From his earliest achievements as National High School Player of the Year and renown as “Michigan’s Mr. Basketball,” Chris Webber’s legacy both on and off the courts has inspired millions across the world to set their sights higher and re-imagine the world as a better, more hospitable place where attaining dreams is truly possible.
An icon to several generations of sports fans for his on court virtuosity, C-Webb’s two near-mythical seasons as part of the fabled “Fab Five” at the University of Michigan in the early 90s and his 15 years as a power forward (and 5-time All-Star) in the NBA laid the foundation for his current success as a broadcaster, businessman, philanthropist and steward of African American culture. Webber’s ever-expanding roster of endeavors reflect his ongoing mission to protect the sanctity of sports while showing their power to affect positive change in society by bringing people together, breaking down racial and cultural barriers and teaching the timeless values of teamwork, discipline and the importance of setting and achieving goals.
The Detroit native, who played with the Washington Bullets/Wizards, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons, has been a one man multi-media lightning rod since ending his career with the Golden State Warriors (the team he started with in the 1993-1994 season) in 2008. He has earned the distinction of being a “thinking man’s/fan’s player-analyst” for his work on NBA-TV’s NBA Gametime Live since its launch in October 2008, and has been an integral part of the network’s Tuesday Fan Night. He was recently named by the SI.com 2011 Media Awards as “Most Improved Analyst” by Sports Illustrated’s Richard Dietsch. Webber served as an occasional guest analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” during the 2008-2009 season; during Charles Barkley’s leave of absence, Webber substituted for him along with other guests Gary Payton and Mike Fratello. Quickly emerging as the face of NBA TV, he is now becoming even more prominent on the network for calling games and regularly produces in studio programming for Turner Sports focused on “Sports, Music and Lifestyle.”
Along those lines, Webber launched his popular “The Chris Webber Show” (aka “Get Game”) in February 2012 on Sirius XM Channel 98 (The Foxxhole Channel). The program, which runs Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2-4 p.m., reaches beyond sports to cover numerous topics, from music and entertainment to politics to current events. Thus far, he has interviewed NBA legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and done real live Tweeting with R&B and hip-hop greats Mary J. Blige and Common. With this groundbreaking show, Webber as an all around media personality is at the nexus of sports, music, culture, politics and lifestyle.
Notorious throughout his career for giving very few media interviews, and till now very private about his personal life, Webber currently has two highly anticipated, complementary projects in the works that will tell his powerful story from his personal perspective: the Chris Webber Biography (expected release: Fall 2012) and The Chris Webber Documentary (expected release: Spring 2013).
Among other topics, millions of fans are eager to hear Webber’s response after all these years to the Fab Five Controversy—including his involvement in the scandal surrounding University of Michigan basketball program booster Ed Martin.
In 2002, Webber pled guilty to one count of criminal contempt for lying about his role; all told, four players, including himself, allegedly had accepted illicit loans from Martin. Webber famously did not participate in “The Fab Five,” the 2011 ESPN Films documentary about the 1990s Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball players (including Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson) that chronicled the recruitment, glory years, notorious time-out fiasco and the scandal—and the impact they had on a generation of basketball fans and American culture. The documentary was the most watched in ESPN history, with an audience of 100 million—a reflection of the public’s enduring fascination with The Fab Five, whose participation in the Final Four during the 1992-93 season led to an all-time high NCAA Finals audience of 40 million.
Webber has been a media sensation since his days in the NBA. In 2001, when he re-signed a multiyear deal with the Sacramento Kings, his contract made him the second highest paid player in NBA history. Capitalizing on his popularity, Webber enjoyed endorsement opportunities with brands such as Coca-Cola, EA Sports, Sony Playstation, ESPN the Magazine, Fila, Nike, Pepsi, Carlʼs Jr., THQ Wireless and New Era. His broad appeal has also resulted in innumerable television appearances and guest-starring spots including NYPD Blue, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live, FoxSports Beyond the Glory, ESPNʼs Sexiest Athletes and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, as well as various shows on MTV, BET, TNT, VHI, the History Channel, Discovery Channel and Nickelodeon. Most recently, he has appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher. In the world of print media, heʼs graced the cover of Sports Illustrated twice and has been featured in various publications from The New York Times Magazine to Essence.
C-Webb’s long history of philanthropy and humanitarian endeavors are grounded in a deep faith in God and values instilled in him and his siblings by his parents during their upbringing in a modest house not far from 6 Mile in Detroit. Webberʼs mother, a schoolteacher, inspired his love for reading and music, and his father, a longtime employee at the local General Motors plant, taught him the importance of loyalty, hard work and discipline. In 1993, he and his family quickly established The Chris Webber Foundation to spread those lessons to underprivileged youth and their families. In over a decade of service, The Chris Webber Foundation has provided toys, books, scholarships, school incentives, holiday presents and financial support to thousands of youth in the Detroit, Washington DC, Oakland, Atlanta, Sacramento and Philadelphia areas.
Currently, the Foundation’s mission is to provide positive educational and recreational opportunities to youth, particularly those who are disadvantaged. Central to that mission are four educational objectives: 1) to encourage and motivate children to read 2) to help children develop the foundational skills they need to become good readers 3) to distribute books to children and encourage them to start home libraries and 4) to provide reading instruction for parents in family literacy programs. Over the years, the foundation collected four truckloads of books, uniforms, school supplies, toiletries and clothes for families devastated by Hurricane Katrina and other families in need. The Foundation also hosts a holiday event that provides books, toys, food and fun for at least 200 youths. The Foundation also formed a partnership with a Detroit hospital to create “wee Readers,” which provides newborns with their first book.
As an extension of this outreach, Webber’s growing collection of African American artifacts and documents—a direct result of his personal interest in his heritage and culture—has also become a beacon of light to people of all ages and races. The Chris Webber Collection of African American Artifacts, which features documents and letters from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, renowned scientist George Washington Carver, Haitian revolutionary Toussaint LʼOverture as well as a treasured, rare first edition book of poems by Phillis Wheatley, a carte-de-viste and letter from Frederick Douglass and the GOAT Book autographed by Muhammad Ali, has exhibited in numerous locations—sometimes as part of the Smithsonian’s “Freedom Sisters” exhibit. It is currently on exhibition at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (through April 2012) and has been exhibited at the Naismith Hall of Fame (Fall 2010) and the Sacramento Public Library.
In the later years of his NBA career, Webber’s philanthropic efforts led to the Sacramento Kings presenting him in 2003 with the inaugural Oscar Robertson “Triple-Double” Award for his leadership and community service. That same year, Webber, who serves on the National Advisory Council for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, received the Make-A-Wish “Wishmaker of the Year” Award. In addition, he received the NBA Community Assist Award twice (2003, 2006) and the California Black Caucus recognized his efforts in 2005 and awarded him a resolution by the California Legislature and in 2007. The States of Michigan and Nevada have also recognized Webber for his devotion to the community. He has also served as an ambassador for VH1 Save the Music—an extension of his contribution to the musical arts, which include producing two tracks for rapper Nas (“Blunt Ashes” from Hip Hop is Dead and “Surviving the Times” from Nas’ Greatest Hits.
Webber’s opportunity to embark on such extraordinary and diverse post basketball endeavors—which also include various dynamic business ventures, including real estate development, sports apparel, sports marketing and the Sacramento restaurant “Center Court with C-Webb” from 2006-2009--were made possible by a dynamic NBA career whose highlights included 17,182 points (20.7 points per game), 8,124 rebounds (9.8 rebounds per game) and 1,200 block (1.4 blocks per game); winning NBA Rookie of the Year (1994); being part of the All-NBA First Team (2001) and Third Team (2000) and a three time member of the All-NBA Second Team (1999, 2002-2003); and having his #4 retired by the Sacramento Kings (whom he played for from 1998-2005) in a 2009 ceremony that included a two minute standing ovation.
Both at U of M and in the pros, C-Webb’s accolades speak for themselves. Not only was Webber the first player in history to make the NCAA All-Tournament team as both a freshmen and a sophomore but, when he entered the NBA Draft in 1993, he became the first college sophomore since fellow Michigan native and NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson to garner the #1 overall pick. Later, as a member of the Golden State Warriors (1993-94), he became the first NBA rookie to score more than 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 150 blocks and 75 steals. As a leader of the Sacramento Kings, he spurred his team onto unprecedented playoff appearances as well as the Western Conference Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002.
Webber is only the sixth player in NBA history to average over 20 points (20.7), nine rebounds (9.8) and four assists (4.2) per game in his career, joining Basketball Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Elgin Baylor and Billy Cunningham, and future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. Webber was ranked #64 in SLAM Magazine’s Top 75 NBA Players of all time in 2003, ranked #11 in an ESPN.com experts poll of the top power forwards of all time in 2008, and ranked #72 on a list of the Top 96 NBA Players of all time in Bill Simmons' bestseller The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy, published in 2009.