Conley, Valanciunas lead Grizzlies past Jazz 114-104

Memphis Grizzlies Mike Conley (11) drives past Utah Jazz's Royce O'Neale (23) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 8, 2019, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht)

Pro athletes have had to deal with the unknowns of seasons being postponed and opportunities being limited — but many have also stepped up to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another example of that was announced by the Utah Jazz on Wednesday as a press release reported that guard Mike Conley had donated $200,000 to five different charities in five different states to “help fight homelessness and food insecurity and improve remote learning.”

“This time has given me a new lens to look through,” Conley said in the press release. “COVID-19 is hitting literally everybody. Everybody is being affected, whether it’s directly, or with family members or friends who have passed, or from job loss. It’s hitting every aspect of our lives.”

According to the announcement, Conley donated to charities in places where he had made stops during his career:

In Utah, where he found a new home when he joined the Jazz, his gift to the Utah Food Bank in Salt Lake City will “be able to provide the equivalent of more than 194,000 meals.”

“In Memphis, where he started his NBA career, Conley donated to CodeCrew which will “use the funds to acquire lost-cost broadband internet services and laptops to assist students with distance learning.”

In Ohio, where he played college basketball, he donated to Community Shelter Board in Columbus which “will be able to provide masks for staff members and clients experiencing homelessness to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus. The donation will also provide personal protective equipment for staff working in isolation and quarantine shelters.”

He also contributed to the Columbus Urban League in Ohio, which “will be able to meet the food needs of some 350 disadvantaged families.”

In Indianapolis, where he went to school, Conley contributed to the Indianapolis Public Schools Foundation, which will “use a portion of the donation to provide internet for students and professional development for teachers in the state’s largest school district.”

Finally, in Arkansas where Conley was born and raised, he donated to the New Haven Missionary Baptist Church in West Helena, Ark., which will “be able to provide person protective equipment for people in the Arkansas Delta.”

“It’s a perfect opportunity to give back,” Conley said in the press release. “I’ve always been one to think about our communities and our future. We can all benefit by having someone fight for us. I’ve always tried to be that person, to be able to do something good in a time when not a lot of good things are happening.”

According to the announcement, Conley’s donation is “aligned with the NBA Together’s ‘Acts of Caring’ platform, a global campaign launched in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The donation is one of many charitable efforts from Conley and his teammates during the past two months.”

This was just one example of many charitable efforts made by Jazz players.

Other examples listed in the press release were “last month, Conley won the NBA HORSE challenge, which involved more than $200,000 in donations to charities focused on COVID-19 response efforts. Jazz All-Star Rudy Gobert has donated to relief efforts in France and to arena workers in Utah affected by the pandemic. All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell contributed to a Utah school district to provide meals for students while schools are shut down. And forward Joe Ingles has contributed to Utah hospitality workers affected by the crisis.”

“You just feel a sense of pride being part of an organization that cares so much about its communities,” Conely said in the press release. “Guys are doing their best to reach out and be that helping hand. It says a lot about our leadership and organization and the values they instill. It’s easy to fall in line and want to be a part of that. I’m just proud to be part of an organization that cares.”

Daily Herald sports reporter Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

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