At 6’10”, former NBA All-Star and Olympic athlete Alonzo “Zo” Mourning towers over most of his fellow humans. But Alonzo’s stature and accomplishments on the court haven’t stopped him from devoting his life to empowering others. Through Alonzo Mourning Charities, he has raised millions for programs that help children and their families, especially kids who have been abused, abandoned and neglected. For his work in teaching kids about leadership and perseverance, Alonzo has been recognized by the NBA and the National Urban League.
Alonzo was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1992 as the number two pick of the first round of the NBA Draft. In 1995 he moved to the Miami Heat, where he led his team to several Eastern Division titles and later represented the U.S. in the 2000 Olympic Games. In 2003 (during a short stint with the New Jersey Nets), Alonzo was about to retire because of a degenerative kidney disease when a long-lost cousin offered to donate one of his kidneys. He made a comeback after the transplant and went on to lead the Heat to its first NBA Championship in 2006. Alonzo retired from Miami in 2009 and became the team’s vice president of player programs.
In 2009, in recognition of the impact Alonzo and his wife have had on local youth, Miami-Dade County named a high school after them, and the same year, a new law was enacted that facilitates the organ transplant process. Alonzo’s foundation has helped raise money to establish the Overtown Youth Center, which offers after-school programs, health care and tutoring. The nonprofit also provides workshops and summer camps to help enrich and empower young women; youth basketball clinics; and youth summits. In all his efforts, Alonzo inspires kids to become positive, contributing citizens in their communities. He teaches them that they can do more than they might think possible. And every Thanksgiving, Alonzo personally delivers turkey dinners to hundreds of unsuspecting families, feeding stomachs as well as souls.