The news cycle surrounding COVID-19, or the coronavirus, pandemic has been hellish in ways far beyond just how it has affected the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA season. But for all of the doom and gloom, and very real threat facing us, there have also been moments to offer faith in humanity.
The Lakers and their Staples Center co-tenants (the Clippers and Kings) are paying around $5 million to take care of the arena staffers who would have worked their games. The arena itself donated 7,000 pounds of food to homeless shelters to ensure those meals helped those in need rather than going to waste.
Two Lakers players are also trying to assist in a couple of ways. For his part, LeBron James is keeping his I Promise School open — not to teach, as all instructional facilities in the area have been shut down — but to provide food and other resources for families who need it (via Mark Medina of USA Today):
“‘We need to make that happen,’” Campbell told USA TODAY Sports about James’ recent conversation with her. “‘We need to do whatever we can to make that happen and make these services to stay open.’”
So although the I Promise School held its last day of classes Friday until further notice, the program has kept its Family Resource Center open.
It has partnered with Smuckers and Akron Food Bank to prep and give care packages filled with food, toothpaste and toilet paper to its 1,443 enrolled students and their families. The center has remained open for any families that need shelter, clothing, medical care and mental health assistance. And the center has kept its hotline open.
Then, on Wednesday, the news came down that Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma wants to do his part to assist some of the most at-risk in his hometown of Flint, Michigan during this trying time (via Bill Oram of The Athletic):
Meals will be provided at eight sites throughout Kuzma’s native Flint. https://t.co/VCsmX14MRP— Bill Oram (@billoram) March 19, 2020
These are both excellent ways to impact these two players’ hometowns during this crisis. James’ school mostly serves lower-income families, who are some of the most at-risk during this pandemic due to workplace closures and the possibility of a loss of income. Seniors are more directly at risk, as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that older adults, especially those 65 and over, are at “higher risk for severe illness” if they contract the coronavirus. Both groups need help, and James and Kuzma are stepping up.
They also, it should be noted, likely are not the only Lakers players (or members of the organization) who are trying to help those in need. Some are probably doing so quietly, so just because someone isn’t listed here, it doesn’t mean they aren’t doing anything.
And helping isn’t something that requires money, either. Just by staying inside, washing our hands diligently for 20 seconds with soap and maintaining social distance from each other, we all, no matter our income level, can help slow the spread of this illness and flatten the curve so that our medical system doesn’t become overburdened and forced into hard, life-or-death choices. Maybe even buy a gift card or two to your favorite local restaurants that will struggle during this, or support a charity you believe in.
We all may not have the resources of a Lakers player, but we can still do our part to make a difference during what promises to be a rough few months (at least). Let’s all hang in there and support each other as a community.
For a list of full CDC coronavirus resources, go to this page. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.