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Davis is an assist leader off the court
by Marc Narducci / October 3, 2007

Ricky Davis - Icon Sports MediaRicky Davis can’t really help himself when it comes to aiding others. Whenever the Minnesota Timberwolves high-scoring guard sees a crisis, he simply can’t stay on the sidelines.

This is a player who has a reputation for being a flamboyant out-of-control shooter on the basketball court. Yet it’s off the court, where he is really a straight shooter, one whose altruistic side is often exemplified, but rarely highlighted.

While Davis may have never met a shot he didn’t want to take on the court, he also rarely passes up on an opportunity to give an assist to people in need.

Davis doesn’t like to broadcast his humanitarian side, but it’s easy to see that his heart is the size of the Target Center, his current place of employment.

In his latest charitable endeavor, Davis has put together an event to honor those courageous workers who risked their lives to help others in the traumatic 1-35 bridge collapse this summer in Minnesota.

A total of 13 people were killed with an estimated 100 injured. In a tribute to those who helped others, Davis has joined forces with Minnesota Twins centerfielder Torii Hunter and Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Pat Williams to honor the city’s first responders to the crisis at a special dinner Oct. 30 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Minneapolis.

Representatives from the police, fire and energy service departments will be invited to the invitation-only affair.

“It was very tragic and brought to light that life can be real short,” said Davis in a phone interview from Turkey, where he is participating in preseason camp with the Timberwolves. “I drove across that bridge several times and it’s a blessing that it didn’t happen to me.”

And most of all, it’s another situation where Davis felt he had to pay tribute to the true heroes of Minnesota.

“I just wanted to let Minnesota know these are real people who will be honored at the dinner and people who risked their lives,” he said.

Those who would like to contribute towards the dinner, can contact the Ricky Davis Foundation at (612) 339-2127 or send donations to the Foundation at 619 Tenth Street South, Suite 3, Minneapolis, MN 55404.

Despite numerous good deeds, Davis is best remembered for a moment that he’ll likely never live down. In 2003 while playing for Cleveland against the Utah Jazz, Davis needed one rebound for a triple double. With only six seconds remaining he took an inbounds pass and was ready to attempt a shot at the wrong basket so he could get that 10th rebound.

DeShawn Stevenson of the Jazz fouled Davis purposely before the attempt. After that incident, Davis incurred the wrath of the Jazz and pretty much the rest of the NBA fraternity.

That incident will likely follow him for the rest of his career. Many of the good things he has done away from the glare of the cameras, remain basically unknown to the general public, but greatly appreciated.

Just ask Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, who Davis has partnered with to help in the Minneapolis Promise program. This program has served several thousand youngsters by setting up a career center, a summer job program and free college tuition. It has been funded with private and city funds and Davis has recently gotten on board.

“Ricky Davis is not only a great player, but he is doing great work in the community,” Rybak said. “I have found him to be so compassionate and humble.”

Others would agree. Surely the 100 abused and neglected children youngsters in Boston, will never forget the $100 gift cards he provided and took them on a shopping spree during the Christmas holidays while he was playing for the Celtics.

Last April he hosted foster children and their families for a brunch at an upscale Minneapolis hotel.

He has worked soup kitchens on Thanksgiving, showed up at people’s homes on Christmas Eve with presents.

When he heard about a group of youngsters who had their car destroyed in a Colorado avalanche last year while coming home from a ski trip, he bought the half-dozen youngsters iPods.

These are just a few instances of Davis taking the time to let others know that he cares.

The mission of the Ricky Davis Foundation is to make a positive impact on the lives of under-privileged children and lower-income families, as well as to help raise awareness for health-related issues and promote healthy living

Yet all we keep hearing about is that ridiculous triple-double attempt.

Davis hears the criticism, but doesn’t really listen. There is a much bigger task at hand, and too many people to reach out to.

“Growing up I wasn’t as fortunate as other people and now to have the opportunity to give back is a big blessing,” Davis said. “It keeps me humble and makes me want to achieve more to give back.”

The 28-year-old Davis realizes that his on-court demeanor, especially early in his career, was subject to question, particularly in Cleveland, where he languished with the struggling Cavaliers in the pre-LeBron days.

“When things weren’t going my way I would get criticized for being flamboyant,” he said. “It started when I went to Cleveland and I didn’t like to lose. And I don’t know anybody who would be happy with losing.”

For the record, Davis still doesn’t take very kindly to losing. What he does like is seeing the influence he can have on others, especially youngsters.

“It’s really interesting to be able to touch children and go out and see children that are underprivileged who have never seen an NBA player,” Davis said. “It helps them mentally to go in and try to get good grades and their core courses together and just to see that somebody cares.”

Caring about others has left a distinct impression to those that Davis has come in contact with.

“It’s doubtful that I will ever be a Timberwolf,” Rybak said, “but it is likely one day that Ricky could be a mayor.”

Marc Narducci covers the NBA for the Philadelphia Inquirer and is a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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