This story is a part of AL.com’s collection “Alabamians who made a distinction in 2020,” highlighting individuals who have made our state a greater place to dwell this 12 months. Tales on this collection will publish every day from Dec. 11 to Dec. 31, 2020. Discover all tales on the Alabamians who made a distinction in 2020 by clicking here.
When Charles Barkley was a child rising up in Leeds, he by no means thought he’d develop as much as be … effectively, Charles Barkley.
How might that child predict that he’d in the future be an Auburn All-American, an NBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medal winner and a member of the “Dream Group”?
However Barkley was fortunate, and he was blessed, and he labored onerous, and he ultimately turned “Sir Charles,” “the Spherical Mound of Rebound,” “the Chuckster.” Now, he’s decided to share these blessings, in addition to among the life classes he realized, with children who’re nonetheless in the beginning of their journeys.
In November, Barkley donated $1 million to Tuskegee University. It was his fifth main donation to a traditionally black faculty, and the second donation of the 12 months.
“It’s only a lengthy plan I’ve received to simply hold giving again,” Barkley mentioned. “I’ve been so fortunate and blessed in my life, I simply actually need to hold doing good with all of the blessings I’ve.”
Barkley began out with a donation to Clark Atlanta College in 2016. He selected the college as a result of he was in Atlanta rather a lot for work. Then his enterprise associate, John Hudson, talked about Alabama A&M, and Barkley determined to donate to Hudson’s alma mater. In 2017, he donated to Morehouse School in Atlanta. And in 2020, he donated to Miles School after attending to know the president of the college, Bobbie Knight.
Impressed by his former Auburn teammate and shut pal Greg Turner, who’s from Tuskegee, Barkley directed his most up-to-date donation to the college down the street from his personal alma mater, Auburn College.
Through the years, Barkley has interacted with the scholars who’ve benefitted from his donations. When speaking with them, he shares what he’s realized alongside his personal journey, the one he by no means might have predicted.
“We don’t know what we will accomplish till the story’s written,” Barkley mentioned he tells them. “No person is aware of how this journey goes to finish, however you need to put your self in a scenario to achieve success.”
However out of all the pieces he’s achieved in 2020, whether or not it’s serving to traditionally black faculties or wounded warriors, Barkley is most pleased with his donation to his highschool. He organized for the scholars to obtain 200 computer systems and free web for a 12 months.
“I’m actually — which means an enormous deal to me,” Barkley mentioned. “As a result of these are children who have been actually struggling in the course of the pandemic, and I don’t need them children — particularly the younger black children — I don’t need them getting left behind throughout this pandemic.”
The occasions of 2020 have taught Barkley simply how a lot of a distinction cash could make. Sure, racism is an issue, he mentioned. It at all times has been and at all times might be. However it boils all the way down to economics. Those that have cash are inconvenienced whereas those that don’t have cash are preventing for his or her lives, he mentioned.
Because the pandemic has dragged on, it has introduced Barkley “nice unhappiness” to see how many individuals have misplaced their jobs or are preventing for his or her companies. He’s tried to help individuals by ordering out three to 4 occasions per week and donating to hospitality workers, however he nonetheless sees loads of bother sooner or later, particularly as a result of “these fools are going to proceed to be getting collectively once they shouldn’t be getting collectively.”
Barkley may be very conscious that the one particular person he can management is himself. But when he could make a distinction to shut that financial hole, he’ll do what he can to share his blessings.