Professional athletes making a difference


Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow’s Foundation will help families who are working to overcome food insecurity and childhood mental health issues in Ohio and Louisiana. Photo courtesy of The Joe Burrow Foundation website.

Katrina Villarreal, Staff Reporter

Athletes are at times mainly known for what they do on the field or the court, but it is what they do off the court and field that makes a difference. There are many professional athletes that have their own charitable foundations that have been around for a while, while some have just started up. Here are a few athletes who are making a difference in their communities.  

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow recently announced the launch of his newest charity, the Joe Burrow Foundation. Burrow created the foundation alongside his parents Robin and Jimmy Burrow. Burrow serves as the president, his father serves as the vice-president, and his mother serves as the secretary and treasurer. Burrow’s foundations will help meet the needs of families who are working to overcome food insecurity and childhood mental health issues throughout Ohio and Louisiana. 

Burrow’s mission statement is: “To provide resources and support to the underprivileged and underserved.” 

“I believe that everyone has a responsibility to do good,” said Burrow in an Oct.4 press release. “This Foundation allows me and my family to give back. So many of you made generous contributions to support food insecurity in Athens County, Ohio following my 2019 Heisman Trophy speech. We will build on our efforts to tackle food insecurity by also finding ways to offer up support in Greater Cincinnati, other parts of Ohio, Baton Rouge, and Louisiana. My mom, a lifetime educator, experiences firsthand the effect of mental health issues on children and their families. We want to make a difference here as well.” 

Before Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) he made sure to give back to the community that did so much for him, Akron, Ohio. The LeBron James Family Foundation began with a bikeathon to bring the community together for good, which later grew into the I PROMISE Program.  

The I PROMISE Program serves over 1,500 students and their families by providing fundamental resources, support and family programming needed for success in school. In 2018 the program teamed up with Akron Public Schools to build the I PROMISE School to provide family-first programming and academic interventions. Since then, the LeBron James Family Foundation has built the I PROMISE Institute, the I PROMISE Village and the I PROMISE Housing.  

The LeBron James Family Foundation mission statement is: “With a commitment to redefining community and building stronger families, the LeBron James Family Foundation invests its time, resources and passion into creating generational change for the kids and families of James’ hometown in Akron, Ohio through a focus on education and co-curricular educational initiatives.”  

“I believe in order for us to ultimately be as great as we can be as a nation that all of us have to go back into our communities and lend our hand,” James said. “It starts brick by brick. It starts person by person. Family by family. Kid by kid.” 

In Major League Baseball (MLB), Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner launched the Justin Turner Foundation (JTF) in 2016 alongside his wife Kourtney. The foundation’s mission is to support homeless veterans, children, their families, battling life-altering illnesses and diseases, along with various youth baseball organizations. 

Turner and his wife partnered with the Dream Center, where they provided veterans with support and housing and 70,000 toys and 14,000 bicycles to children in the Los Angeles area. During the COVID-19 pandemic, JTF partnered with the Dream Center to help with drive-thru and walk-up food and essentials line to support local restaurants and Los Angeles residents. Turner and his wife make it an effort to visit Children’s Hospital, Cedars-Sinai, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, and the Dream Center.  

These are only a few athletes making a difference in the world. Various athletes in different sports have different foundations to make a difference in their community. Through charitable foundations athletes show that there is more to sports than just winning. 

Katrina Villarreal is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected]