MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - One Memphis Grizzlies legend is stepping up when people need it most during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mike Conley is still giving back to the Mid-South.
Conley called Memphis home for 12 years and even though he’s moved on to play for the Utah Jazz, he’s giving back to the people in the city that helped shape who he is today.
Conley was first introduced to charity when he was around five years old. His first event, was a memorable one.
"I met Michael Jordan. So my first thought was I get to meet famous people like this."
That quickly turned into a passion of giving back to the communities, kids and futures of those who need it most.
Conley says, “It’s vital that we who have a platform like we do and a stage like we do to utilize it the best we can because who knows how long my voice will mean something.”
Most recently, Conley donated $200,000 to split among six charities in different cities that mean something to the NBA star. In the Mid-South, the New Haven Missionary Baptist Church in West Helena, Arkansas. Along with Code Crew in Memphis, which provides technology for kids to learn.
Conley says, "Not everyone has resources, has WiFi, not everyone has the capabilities to do a lot of these things and I know that's a real issue and I want them to still be able to achieve their goals and continue their education in whatever they're trying to do."
Providing kids with the best opportunities has been a big focus for Conley. He was involved in a mentoring program in Memphis and was paired with an 8 year old boy around his rookie season, and saw just how big of a difference he could make.
“Fast forward to eight to nine years later, there’s this grown man that walks up to me and he’s in a suit,” Conley remembers. "And looking wonderful, and tells me hey, I’m the kid that you used to mentor and without your words I would’ve never made it to college. if anyone ever gets the opportunity, you understand the power of just a conversation or just being there for somebody and listening.
Conley's hope is not only to fill a need for each of these organizations, but to inspire someone else to give to their community.