Nine-time NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook is aware of the challenges faced by American students now embracing virtual learning, thanks to COVID-19, and he’s taking action. Westbrook has purchased 650 laptops for students in Houston who may not have computers or WiFi access at home.
The gifts are coming through the Houston Rockets guard’s Why Not? foundation.
He partnered with Comp-U-Dopt for the laptop purchases, a nonprofit that’s been providing computers to households throughout both Houston and Galveston, Texas, on an ongoing basis.
Westbrook spoke about the initiative at a press conference with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Monday, April 13. He expressed his excitement about helping to close the digital divide between families who can purchase computers and those who are unable to do so.
According to Comp-U-Dopt, out of the Houston families to which it provides computers, 83 percent of those households make under $35,000 a year.
“It’s something that I’m very, very passionate about through my foundation, and I’m just trying to find a way, especially now, to be able to bridge the gap and give kids access to another way of learning, through computers,” said Westbrook. “This allows them to be able to continue their education, especially from home. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Turner spoke about the initiative as well.
“Russell Westbrook proves why he is a champion on and off the court,” he said. “This donation will be a game-changer for many students and their families coping with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The generous contribution will help young people stay focused on their education at home and until they can return to their classroom.”
Westbrook also announced on Wednesday, April 15 that, with film producer Thomas Tull and his company Tulco, he will work to donate 4.2 million masks and other personal protective equipment to medical workers in Black communities hard hit hard by the virus. The 4.2 figure represents the jersey number for Jackie Robinson,the first Black Major League Baseball player of the modern era.
With the NBA still being suspended because of the virus, the league has assisted with relief efforts in various ways. Some players, for example, have made a PSA about the need to keep safe and social distance.
Plus, NBA and WNBA teams, as well as players, have committed to giving $30 million toward relief efforts, the league revealed.
Last month, the league announced “NBA Together,” “A global community and social engagement campaign that aims to support, engage, educate and inspire youth, families and fans in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” as described on NBA.com.
The league also says it’s committed to raising more than $50 million for virus relief efforts.