Skal Labissiere: It was my dad. When he found us, he grabbed a barbell from the weight bench that was outside and started jabbing it into the wall to break up the concrete and free me and my brother. Then my dad and a couple of other guys from the neighborhood got on top of the rubble and started digging us out. As they were digging, I remember the first thing I said to my dad: “You promised me I was going to reach the NBA …” For some reason, for those three hours, that was one of the things at the top of my mind. Maybe it was because making it to the NBA was a dream that I thought I suddenly wasn’t going to be able to reach …
Skal Labissiere: I was the first one they pulled out. I couldn’t walk — I could barely move. The guys who were helping my dad carried me into the street where there was less debris, pulling me by my armpits with my dead legs dragging behind me. Then they pulled my mom and brother out, wiped the blood from my mom’s face, and wrapped my brother’s foot up and brought them out into the street with me. Everybody in the neighborhood who was still alive or trying to stay alive started gathering in the street. The entire block had been destroyed. There wasn’t a single house left standing. By that time it was starting to get dark, and people went digging through the rubble for blankets and pillows. Then they would walk down the street and give whatever they had to whoever needed it.
And Dalembert, who lost a cousin and several close friends in the disaster, is trying to do all he can. In the aftermath of the earthquake, Dalembert, through his eponymous foundation, donated about $650,000 and established a foundation for relief efforts in Haiti. “You looked at the country,” Dalembert said at the time. “You felt like it was Armageddon. It was devastating.” More than five years later, Dalembert is still doing what he can to negate that devastation.
Dalembert, who was waived by the Knicks in January, also sees untapped potential in his homeland. The 34-year-old believes Haiti is a land filled with under-utilized resources, such as coffee, which, when tapped, can create jobs and improve lives. While he works out to prepare for his next NBA opportunity, Dalembert also spends time looking into how he can help make that happen. “The country just needs a little TLC,” Dalembert says, his words filled with passion. “I just want to be able to look in the mirror and say I did all I can.”
Haiti Prime Minister called on a group of retired NBA players to invest in Haiti Saturday during a philanthropic summit in Miami. The event at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, was additionally attended by former US President Bill Clinton, who traveled to Haiti on Sunday. Lamothe addressed a group of attendees including former NBA stars including Glen Rice, Penny Hardaway and Haitian-born Olden Polynice, who was recently named a goodwill ambassador by Haiti President Michel Martelly.
Former NBA star Olden Polynice lost eight family members in the devastating quake that hit Haiti last year. In this exclusive, FanHouse spoke with Polynice as the Miami Heat were visiting the Los Angeles Clippers, with both teams wearing shirts emblazoned with “Save Haiti.”