The basketball legend hopes to make a lasting positive impact on housing in his hometown of Leeds, Alabama.
Housing in the United States is at present in a major crisis. Despite being one of the wealthiest developed countries in the world, homelessness is at an alarmingly high level. It is estimated that over half a million people go homeless on a single night in the United States, according to a 2019 report by The Council of Economic Advisers. While the government continues to fail its citizens, private actors are stepping in to fill in the gaps. The latest individual to do so is none other than Charles Barkley, former NBA star. Now officially a retired legend, he is selling his Olympic medal and MVP award in order to raise funds to build affordable housing in his hometown of Leeds in Alabama, CNN reports.
The basketball star is working in collaboration with the sports card company Panini. Together, they will be auctioning off one of his two Olympic gold medals. Barkley earned one Olympic gold medal in 1992 and the other in the year 1996, both at the Olympic Games. They will also auction off his NBA MVP award, which he earned in 1993 while playing with the Phoenix Suns. All of the proceeds earned from the auctions will be utilized to fund 20 homes in Leeds, the retired athlete confirmed on the Dan Le Betard Show on March 5. Barkley stated, "I don't think I have to walk around with my gold medal or my MVP trophy for people to know I'm Charles Barkley, so I'm going to sell all that crap." He believes they can be put to better use.
The only reason he has chosen to hold on to one Olympic gold medal is that his daughter Christiana wishes to keep it. Christiana wanted to retain the 1992 medal from Barcelona, the year of the "Dream Team," Barkley revealed in an interview with Birmingham sports radio station WJOX. Prior to his decision to auction the awards off, the awards were kept at his grandmother's house before she sadly passed away. "That just clutters my house," the Inside the NBA analyst shared. "I used to keep it at my grandmother's house, but they all passed away, and I don't want that stuff crapping up my house." It appears that Barkley may be practicing the Marie Kondo method and keeping only what brings him joy, such as affordable housing for all.
This is not his first philanthropic effort to make national headlines. Increasingly so, he is becoming more well-known for his humanitarian projects. In recent years, the former Phoenix Suns team member has donated a whopping $1 million each to various universities, including Alabama's Miles College, Alabama A&M in Huntsville, Clark Atlanta University, and Morehouse College. All these universities are historically black colleges and universities dedicated to improving higher education for African American students. The MVP award alone could fetch him a minimum of $300,000, he was told. This money will help him make a significant impact on housing in Leeds.
"I want to do something really nice for Leeds. And if I could build 10 to 20 affordable houses—I want to do green housing too," Barkley stated. "If I could sell all that stuff, it would just be a really cool thing for me." At present, Leeds is seriously struggling in the housing department - and Barkley has noticed. He said, "We've probably got 30 eyesores, as I call them, where houses used to be when I was growing up. Either a rotted-up house or there are just weeds that are overgrown." The basketball legend hopes to work in conjunction with the local government of Leeds in order to make the most positive impact. Barkley explained, "I want to work with the city of Leeds, I want them to give me the spaces, number one. I want them to give me the houses, and I'm going to use my own money selling my memorabilia." Go, Barkley! We're all still rooting for him.