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I’ve been a sports fan my entire life. Having grown up about an hour from Detroit, Michigan, I have been a loyal Detroit Pistons fan for years. I still remember standing at the games and yelling “Sheeeeeeeeeed” when Rasheed Wallace would block a shot or hit his famous fade-away post shot. As I have grown up and gotten a little more into “real life” social issues I have another reason to stand and yell “Sheeeeeeeeed”.
The recent Flint, Michigan water crisis was shocking to many Americans. I had heard about aging, failing infrastructures in cities but never had any idea that the problems were not only so bad, but so close. Like many issues that come across our twitter feeds and our phone and TV screens, we feel empathy in the moment for all of the suffering people, but quickly move on to the next big issue or the next great problem. I was inspired by seeing so many people jumping in and helping Flint when the crisis first happened. I’m inspired again because my childhood hero has become one of the loudest voices to ensure that people know this problem is still very real.
Rasheed Wallace earned millions of dollars during his career in the NBA. He was a once-in-a-generation talent who rose above many obstacles to become a star. He, along with former NBA players Stephen Jackson and Flint’s own Morris Peterson, has made multiple trips to Flint with trucks full of bottled water. Many other NBA players have offered to buy water when Rasheed makes these trips, but he doesn’t want their money for water; he wants them to see the disaster themselves. He has given a loud voice to the thousands of people who still have to boil water daily so they can shower and do other tasks I take for granted every day. He has given hope to an entire community who feels forgotten and de-humanized by a lack of governmental support.
Yeah, Rasheed will always be one of my favorite basketball players but more than that, he has become one of my favorite people. As horrifying as this crisis still is, it’s inspiring to know that one of my favorite players ever has found a new passion in his retired life. Hopefully Flint collectively yells “SHEEEEEEEEEEED” next time he makes his way up there. I know I will.
To learn more about the Flint water crisis or to find out how you can help, please visit http://www.helpforflint.com/
Pictured: Rasheed Wallace with local residents (photo courtesy of The Players Tribune)