When Tim Duncan in 2016 nobody had a real sense of what to expect from his next chapter. He was never the loudest voice in the room. He was never about celebrity or fame. He was never the guy you would look at predict a job on an NBA studio show when he retired.
In an excellent article by Bleacher Reports David Gardner, Duncan expressed exactly that. Duncan wanted to retire and stay out of the public eye, but a natural disaster at home, the United States Virgin Islands, changed everything.
Category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria left much of Duncan’s home in shambles, and Duncan responded by leaving his comfortable solitude in an effort to fix what Irma and Maria destroyed.
Duncan made a poignant remark about the state of tragedy in 2017, saying it’s tough to keep track of all the tragedies the country has experienced this year.
“It’s so hard to keep your attention on any one thing,” Duncan says. “I was following what was happening in Houston because it was so close to me. And then, of course, there are fires out west. And now Puerto Rico is getting a lot of headlines. I knew people wouldn’t be focused on these islands. And I know I’m the most recognizable person here, so it’s my responsibility to be that lightning rod for attention.”
As tough as it is to admit, he’s right. There is so much going on everywhere, every day, all the time, and that makes the work Duncan is doing in the Virgin Islands even more important. It’s changed him in a way that’s nothing short of inspiring. You can check out the work in detail here, and if you feel inclined to help the cause, Duncan set up a donations page here that has already exceeded $2.6 million.
“I wouldn’t have wanted any of this to happen,” Duncan said. “But it’s been a good thing for me to come here and give back. Without what happened—without the storms—I probably would have just stayed in my little shell. There was no way around it though: Helping had to mean stepping out of my comfort zone.”
Duncan stepping out of his comfort zone here is important, and it’s certainly changing lives on the Virgin Islands. Hopefully it draws enough attention to create real change in an area desperately in need of a boost.