NBA star Kawhi Leonard’s leadership led the Toronto Raptors to their first championship title, and now the 28-year-old is on a mission to be just as impactful off of the court. According to the Huffington Post, Leonard teamed up with the Los Angeles-based nonprofit Baby2Baby and the L.A. Clippers Foundation to donate one million backpacks to children from low-income families just in time for the back-to-school season.
Through the initiative, students who attend school in the Los Angeles, Inglewood, and Moreno Valley school districts will all receive free backpacks in an effort to help alleviate financial burdens for families who are struggling to make ends meet. For the two-time NBA Finals MVP, this project is personal. Growing up in the L.A. area he witnessed first-hand how financial setbacks can have a ravaging impact on families and he wanted to utilize the backpack initiative as an avenue to give back to his hometown. “Going to the NBA, this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be able to give back to my community,” he said while announcing the initiative at his former elementary school in Moreno Valley. “That’s why I’m so happy to be back home. I’m able to be hands-on in the community where I grew up and where it started for me.”
The leadership team at Baby2Baby—which provides youngsters living in poverty with basic necessities—are humbled by Leonard’s generous contribution. “We are overwhelmed with gratitude to the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard for this record-breaking donation to every student in Los Angeles Unified School District and beyond,” the organization’s presidents Norah Weinstein and Kelly Sawyer Patricof said in a statement. “For many of these children who are homeless or in foster care, backpacks not only hold their school books and homework, but also all of their personal belongings. The Clippers’ donation will make these children feel the pride they deserve and give them the confidence they need to start the school year off on the right foot.” Over the past eight years, the organization has donated over 70 million items to children who have been placed in foster care, homeless shelters, hospitals and domestic violence programs.
This isn’t the first philanthropic initiative that Leonard has been a part of. In the past, he’s hosted youth basketball camps and he also donated a car to an organization focused on children with special needs so they would be able to travel back and forth to their doctor’s appointments and go on trips.