Ayton, Hield lead charge in Hurricane relief effort

Deandre Ayton and Buddy Hield. (AP)

Deandre Ayton and Buddy Hield. (AP)


Tribune Sports Reporter


DEANDRE Ayton and Buddy Hield continue to be two of the leading voices for Bahamian athletes in the Hurricane Dorian relief effort.

Both NBA stars hosted respective fundraisers this week in their adopted cities while Ayton also released a signature shoe, with part proceeds from its sales allotted for donation to the Bahamas.

Ayton hosted a charity dinner at Ocean 44 in Phoenix, Arizona. Full proceeds from the event were donated to the UNICEF USA hurricane relief efforts.

“Proud to say, we raised over $47,000. A huge thank you to Oceans 44 for being such gracious hosts and supporters. Thank you to the entire Suns organisation, my teammates and Mr Sarver for his generous contribution,” Ayton posted to Instagram.

“And to the Phoenix community for embracing my family and I and showing up to support this cause and my home. I’m truly grateful for every single person who came out. And, thank you UNICEF USA for your continued work.”

Suns owner Robert Sarver made a $10,000 contribution to Ayton’s pledge.

“This is more than I expected giving back. It’s the least I can do,” Ayton told Arizona Sports. “It’s a lot more motivation when it comes to just working hard and people who see your efforts and your hard work, they just want to back you up when your back is against the wall. Not everybody is invincible or untouchable. Everybody needs somebody for help and I just love having supporters from the Valley that really appreciate everything that I do.”

Ayton donated $100,000 to various organisations in the relief effort and also established a GoFundMe account for crowd sourced fundraising. He also hosted a supply and donation drive at Fry’s Food Store in the Phoenix area.

PUMA also released Ayton’s first shoe collaboration with the brand when it debuted the “RS-X” shoe. PUMA will donate $25 for every pair sold to provide relief to those persons affected in the Bahamas.

Hield hosted a similar private dinner at Camden Spit and Larder restaurant in Sacramento, California in conjunction with Chef Oliver Ridgeway.

Hield’s mother, Jackie Swann, joined Chef Ridgeway in the kitchen to prepare signature Bahamian dishes for the event.

“Just trying to raise more awareness for my country and help in any way I can. Chef Oliver came up with the idea, he has a great heart, he wanted to help in any way. We had the idea to bring my mom to tag along where she can cook, bring some Bahamian food and share the culture with everyone that came to the event. She’s been my role model my whole life, cooking is her passion so this is fun for her,” Hield said.

“The awareness campaign has been going well. Whether its teammates retweeting or organisations reaching out to my foundation, even though I’m still busy with basketball and finding time for that, there are countless people that have helped and I’m really appreciative of that.”

Hield donated $100,000 and established a GoFundMe which has raised just over $405,000 thus far. In addition, the Buddy Hield Foundation, in conjunction with the Fox Foundation, has been on the ground in Grand Bahama distributing supplies to affected communities.

Hield also appeared on ESPN’s flagship show “Sportscenter” and on the network’s investigative journalism show “Outside The Lines” to discuss the effects of the catastrophic storm.

“There’s a lot of responsibility, family and friends needing help,” Hield said. “I’m a guy that always pushes my culture talking about the food and island life. This can bring everyone together.”

As for their work on the court, both players were recently ranked among ESPNs top 100 players. Hield was ranked at No.59: “The centrepiece of the return for DeMarcus Cousins has developed into a high scorer, topping 20 points per game last season by virtue of a combination of more playing time, a faster pace and a 3.2-point increase in his points per 100 possessions.”

Ayton was ranked at No. 66: “As expected, Ayton’s combination of size, skill and athleticism made him an efficient scorer. His .608 true shooting percentage ranked him second among rookies who played at least 500 minutes, behind Mitchell Robinson of the Knicks. As Phoenix finds more playmakers on offence, Ayton should be able to improve on the 21 per cent of the team’s plays he used as a rookie, becoming more of an offensive force.”


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