J.J. Barea has proven to be an exceptional athlete, both on and off the court. The Puerto Rico native has been awarded the 2017-2018 J. Walter Kennedy Award, given to players who have made a difference outside of basketball.
Awarded by the Professional Basketball Writer’s Association (PBWA), Barea earned the award for his work in Puerto Rico after the disaster that Hurricane Maria delivered to the island in September 2017. His efforts, along with his foundation, delivered a sense of hope during such a terrible disaster.
Through the J.J. Barea Foundation, the Mavericks’ guard raised money to help those in Puerto Rico, and donated money to nonprofit organizations on the island. To assist Barea in his effort, Mavericks’ team owner Mark Cuban lent the team plane to the Puerto Rico native to deliver supplies.
Barea helped provide over 100,000 pounds of supplies to Puerto Rico, including water, food, and generators, while raising over $500,000 for relief efforts. He’s also started a website to raise money for those affected by the hurricane, which has amassed over $250,000 in donations.
In PBWA’s press release of the award, President Josh Robbins said of Barea, “[His] impassioned and tireless efforts to help the people of Puerto Rico are inspiring and should spur us all to contribute in our own communities.”
As a fellow Puerto Rican, and as someone who went through Hurricane Maria and the devastation it left, I am very proud of Barea’s efforts.
With people like Barea, this has clearly shown the pride and tenacity of the people of Puerto Rico. He’s given so much without being asked, and without asking anything in return. Barea’s selflessness has given many people help in crucial times, and his continued help has provided hope to those affected.
Even though there is still work to be done, Barea, as well as other well-known Puerto Rican figures have given so much to help the affected communities. As a proud Puerto Rican, who like Barea was born in Mayagüez, I say thank you to JJ Barea. He did not win the PBWA Citizenship Award, he earned it.