Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #167

June 7 – June 13, 2015

Welcome to week one hundred sixty-seven of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. Meet the man who made history riding American Pharoah to victory, then donated winnings to charity.
  2. Cam Newton proud, excited to be a college graduate
  3. Cavs’ Matthew Dellavedova — A Standout In The Classroom And On The Court
  4. Three Days in Havana with the World’s Most Cosmopolitan Soccer Club
  5. Miami Dolphins Player A.J. Francis Tackles Driving Uber As His Second Job
  6. Golden Girl: Cindy Parlow Cone talks youth sports, Olympic glory
  7. Backwoods to Bright Lights: The Deontay Wilder Story
  8. Lauren Hill honored with brick in Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame
  9. White Sox slugger Jose Abreu launches ‘Abreu’s Amigos’ at Easter Seals
  10. Months after traumatic accident, Indiana teen shines at state all-star game

Some of the negative stories that you hear about athletes have to do with academic issues in college or post-career money problems. While these problems are certainly not exclusive to athletes, they are of course higher profile than the average person and therefore garner maybe an inordinate amount of attention. We recognize that these problems exist and that more should be done to correct them. We also, however, recognize that there are many athletes who are fulfilling promises and dreams and preparing themselves for the array of opportunities life will afford them.

We have three stories this week that highlight such athletes and their efforts: First, NFL star Cam Newton who recently earned his degree from Auburn University; Cleveland Cavalier and playoff star Matthew Dellavedova and his scholarly pursuits while at St. Mary’s College; and Miami Dolphins player A.J. Francis, who is moonlighting this offseason as a Uber driver. There are major differences between these athletes and what they earn playing professional sports and their fame from that world. However, each has shown a commitment to self-improvement that proves to themselves and many others, that they are by no means one-dimensional and are individuals we should probably keep an eye on when it comes to long-term success.

Other stories we are proud to highlight this week include: the Triple Crown winning jockey and trainer donating their winnings from the Belmont Stakes to charity; a reporter’s take on the New York Cosmos’ historic 3-day trip to Cuba; former World Cup star Cindy Parlow and her views on youth sports; the back story of current heavyweight boxing champion Deontay Wilder; a special honor for the late Lauren Hill; Chicago White Sox star Jose Abreu and his new effort to work with children with special needs; and the tremendous determination shown by a high school basketball star to recover from a traumatic injury.

Finally, we want to let you know of a series of events being hosted by our friends at Beyond Sport. We strongly encourage you to try to attend at least one of the two events this summer and one in October.

Please continue to send along your stories. You are both our audience and our best source of stories. Our Twitter handle is @sportsdoinggood, and you can find us at

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Meet the man who made history riding American Pharoah to victory, then donated winnings to charity.
American Pharoah’s jockey, Victor Espinoza, donated all his winnings from the Belmont Stakes to charity. All of it. Reportedly $80,000. Wow. The charity is City of Hope, and they fight cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other life-threatening illnesses. In an interview with ABC News, Espinoza casually mentioned his plans for the massive payday. “I won the Triple Crown right now, but I don’t make any money because I’m donating all the money to the City of Hope.” According to Louisville’s Courier-Journal, Baffert and his wife Jill will donate $50,000 to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, $50,000 to the California Retirement Management Account, and $50,000 to Old Friends Farm.

American Pharoah’s trainer, Bob Baffert, also donated his Belmont winnings, splitting it between three charities.

Cam Newton proud, excited to be a college graduate
Newton returned to Auburn after his second season in the league. There were times when he questioned whether he would be able to finish. He didn’t have a student — or anybody — assigned to tutor him as he did while a student-athlete. There were times, Newton confirmed, when he questioned why, as a multimillion-dollar quarterback, he was getting up for an 8 a.m. class. “Every single time I had to take a test,” he said with a laugh. “I mean, those tests was — was brutal for me.” Newton said he went for a degree in sociology because “I just love talking to people.” When he’s finished with football, Newton wants to use his degree to open a day care.

Cavs’ Matthew Dellavedova — A Standout In The Classroom And On The Court
“I thought, ‘I think that’s what Matthew does, because isn’t the point guard a basketball quarterback?’ ” she says. Dellavedova later confirmed that was the case and True gave him the book to read. He thanked her and said he had a book for her, too — one that had a lot to do with work ethic being as important if not more important than talent. A book, she says, Dellavedova studied when he attended the Australian Institute of Sport. True says after that, they began trading books and “almost every time he’d see me, he’d ask, ‘What are you reading?’ “He also emailed her his favorite TED Talks and video clips related to psychology. True was impressed by Dellavedova’s curiosity and “voracious” reading. “He’s the real deal,” she says.

Matthew Dellavedova (right) of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference finals last month. Jason Miller/Getty Images

Three Days in Havana with the World’s Most Cosmopolitan Soccer Club
On June 2, 2015, it’s packed with Cuban fans making music. Somehow, they coordinate their distinct sounds, so that instead of cacophony, the timba drummers, horn blowers and maraca shakers beat out a salsa rhythm. When not dancing to the music, fans clamor for Raúl. Then Pelé appears on the balcony of his suite, and it’s his name they repeat, louder and louder. He bows in appreciation. Touches his chest with his hands. The reporters are almost as astounding as the crowd. Too many countries to count have sent correspondents, TV personalities, reporters. The Cosmos plane alone had Germans and Englishmen and Brazilians and Spaniards. Now, I catch a Mexican reporter, a Venezuelan, a Panamanian. I wind up watching the first half from a press row at field level – between an official correspondent for Chinese state TV and his counterpart for Russian television.

Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty

Miami Dolphins Player A.J. Francis Tackles Driving Uber As His Second Job
Uber has proven to be a perfect fit for Francis, who enjoys driving, has a strong work ethic and loves to talk. By driving people around and engaging in thoughtful conversation, he’s able to check off all three boxes. Francis’ friends and family compliment him for his “hustle,” and his awareness that the NFL dream isn’t one that will last forever. And he points out that he’s a great choice for an Uber driver: he’s never received a ticket. Because Francis is a backup player, most fans aren’t likely to recognize him. He says nobody’s entered the car and recognized him as a Dolphins player yet. “People just think I’m some big dude in a nice car,” he said. “I tell them at the end of the interview who I am, and the shock on their face is really funny.”

Golden Girl: Cindy Parlow Cone talks youth sports, Olympic glory
“I’ve decided to focus my career on the youth game and in doing so I think it’s more important to give them that positive experience and help them and guide them through these life lessons. Along the way, of course, you’re teaching them tactics and techniques and different ways to play the game, but for me my focus is to give them that positive experience and help them lead a healthy lifestyle now and on into adulthood.” Parlow Cone is also at the forefront of the Safer Soccer Initiative – developed by the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI), a leading concussion research and advocacy nonprofit, and the Santa Clara University Institute of Sports Law and Ethics (ISLE) – to keep heading out of soccer until players reach high school. It’s an initiative that the National Alliance for Youth Sports fully supports, too.

Backwoods to Bright Lights: The Deontay Wilder Story
“When he walked through the door, obviously I knew the exterior was athletic and tall. But I didn’t know about the interior,” Deas said. “We get a lot of people in here from all walks of life. And some of them have real potential athletically. But it isn’t an easy sport. I get a lot of people who come in and say they want to do this, that and the other. But once they find out how much work it is, they aren’t so interested anymore. But he was. He worked just as hard when he didn’t know I was watching as he did when he knew I was looking. And that’s very unusual.” The ring creaks as Wilder steps into it, perhaps wary of what is to come. First is the warm-up, long arms circling for a time and then a longer stretch in the corner. Then Anber enters his domain, and the work begins, a timer set to chime every three minutes as the pop-pop of punches accompanied the soft sounds of soul.

Deontay Wilder celebrates his WBC heavyweight title victory over Bermane Stiverne. AP Photo

Lauren Hill honored with brick in Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame
The late Lauren Hill has been honored with her own brick in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. The brick was unveiled earlier this week in memory of Hill, a freshman forward at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati who died of terminal brain cancer in April at age 19 after a high-profile battle with the disease. Hill was an Indiana native who attended Lawrenceburg High School. She achieved her dream of playing college basketball in November, scoring the first points of Mount St. Joseph’s season. Hill’s brick was donated by Shannon Freeman-Frogge, an Indiana All-Star player in 1986 who is now a personal trainer in Utah. Freeman-Frogge was inspired by Hill’s story and efforts to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

White Sox slugger Jose Abreu launches ‘Abreu’s Amigos’ at Easter Seals
Chicago White Sox hitter Jose Abreu launched “Abreu’s Amigos” – a community program with the Easter Seals Metropolitan Chicago (ESMC) Therapeutic School and Center for Autism Research. Passionate about supporting children with special needs, Abreu built the program with ESMC to focus on providing regular opportunities for students with special needs to develop social skills in a recreational setting through field trips to the ballpark. “The Easter Seals’ mission to create opportunities for children with special needs to live, learn and play is very important to me,” said Abreu. “I am grateful to start this long-term program that will help make a difference in the lives of the students.”

Months after traumatic accident, Indiana teen shines at state all-star game
It is not the perfect ending he dreamed about. It was not the way anyone saw this All-Star experience going. But in taking those steps, Speidel showed more courage than he ever could have on the court. He proved that he’s a fighter, that he’ll continue working towards his goals, no matter how they might shift. Ali Patberg, a friend of Speidel’s, told Neddenriep, “When the accident happened, no one would have thought he would be there on that day with us. To be there, and show how strong he is, that was important. It was pretty emotional. He wanted to be there, and he worked hard so he could be there.”–indiana-teen-shines-at-state-all-star-game-140354646.html

Nice moment here in Richmond as Josh Speidel is introduced as member of Indiana All-Stars.

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Contact InformationSarbjit “Sab” Singh