Milwaukee Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday was one of the most sought-after players in the NBA last year, not only for his play on the court but for his contributions off the court as well.
Last year, he, along with his wife, Lauren, gave $5 million of his NBA bubble salary to help causes relating to the Black Lives Matter movement in three different cities: Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Indianapolis.
Holiday and the Social Justice Impact Fund
The NBA and the WNBA have had a huge impact on the Black Lives Matter movement, especially after the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was recently convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.
Last year, Jrue and Lauren Holiday decided to use most of Jrue’s $5.3 million salary, which he received while playing in the NBA bubble, to start the Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Impact Fund.
The Holidays gave money to Black-owned businesses, non-profits, and other organizations that have an impact on Black and brown communities.
The Holidays explained in a statement why this was important to them.
“When we first decided to start this fund, it was at an inflection point of two pandemics — the disproportionate effects that COVID-19 had on the Black community and businesses, and equally as devastating, the murders of George Floyd and many other unarmed Black people — resulting in an overwhelming feeling of helplessness,” they said in a joint release.
“We are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help people through the JLH Fund and will continue to do this work and make the greatest impact possible.”
The impact of Lebron James and other basketball superstars
The Holidays may also have been influenced by other stars in the league such as LeBron James, who has been vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement, at times to the point of controversy.
Last year after the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, NBA players, led by Holiday’s current team, walked off the court and conducted a wildcat strike before the start of their playoff games.
Some thought the players might not return to continue the playoffs because of the discourse and the protests taking place around the country at the time.
Players on the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics also walked off the court earlier this year after Blake’s shooter was not charged in his case.
The WNBA’s impact
Even before the NBA and its players got involved in social justice, the WNBA was making its voices heard.
The WNBA used its platform to speak out against the death of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by police in her Louisville, Kentucky, apartment, and it helped get out the vote in the Georgia special elections, which were held in January.
As long as they have platforms, players like Jrue Holiday, LeBron James, and others will continue to speak out against injustices and help build up their communities.