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Friday, January 15, 2010

Dalembert Delivers

Dalembert delivers

By John McMullen, NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Samuel Dalembert isn't the most popular athlete in Philadelphia.

In fact, Sammy D. and his massive contract, have turned the player into a bit of a pariah in the City of Brotherly Love. Despite possessing the length and natural instincts to be an excellent rebounder and top-tier shot blocker, Dalembert has always been something of a disappointment.

A lack of basketball IQ and disdain of the weight room made Dalembert the poster boy for underachievement in a moribund era of Philly basketball. His six-year contract that dwarfs the deals of other sports stars in the city like baseball's Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, football's DeSean Jackson and hockey's Mike Richards, has caused many fans to label him as overrated.

Any perceived deficiencies on the basketball floor were dwarfed this week by Dalembert's work in the real world, however.

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Dalembert spent the first 14 years of his life in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country before moving to Montreal. He may have moved on and moved up, parlaying a couple of seasons at Seton Hall into a shot at the NBA, but he never left Haiti behind.

Currently the only active Haitian player in the NBA, Dalembert is scheduled to make $12.12 million this season. The average per capita income in Haiti is $1,300.

The Sixers' center understands he rose from the depths of poverty and has taken a keen interest in the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program, traveling all over the world to expand the game's reach and help the poorest among us. In the last offseason, Dalembert returned to Haiti to scout locations for a children's academy.

In fact, Dalembert has done so much for the same community that often boos him, he was awarded the NBA Community Assist Award last February in recognition of his outstanding efforts in the Philadelphia area for his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work.

Understandably, Dalembert was devastated as news trickled in of the catastrophic earthquake in his homeland earlier this week a disaster that has killed up to an estimated 50,000 people and left thousands more homeless, hungry and in despair.

Although most of his family has moved to the United States, Dalembert thought of his many friends and more distant relatives and wanted to charter a flight to Port-au-Prince, but it just wasn't feasible.

Instead, he did what he could, using his power as an NBA player to educate many of us on the history of Haiti and encourage anyone who could to pledge their support, after he scored 12 points and pulled down a season-high 21 rebounds against New York on Wednesday.

Dalembert himself is scheduled to present a personal check of $100,000 to Caryl M. Stern, the President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, before the Sixers host the Sacramento Kings at the Wachovia Center on Friday.

A long-time NBA partner who has been on the ground in Haiti since 1949, UNICEF is currently providing support to the victims of this unfolding humanitarian crisis. Funds are being used to provide safe water, temporary shelter systems and essential medical supplies and additional services to the estimated three million victims, at least half of whom are thought to be children.

"My heartfelt thanks to Samuel Dalembert and the Philadelphia 76ers for their generous contribution," said Stern. "This will help provide essential life- saving supplies to the people of Haiti, especially for the thousands of children most in need without shelter, clean water, nutrition, and those separated from their parents in this disaster."

In addition to his personal contribution, Dalembert has also pledged to match the amount of money donated by Sixers fans at the UNICEF table on the concourse during the game on Friday.

"While I cannot begin to imagine what my friends and family are going through as they deal with this terrible tragedy, I will do everything that I can to help raise funds to aid in the relief efforts," said Dalembert.


Not today.

-Those who would like to help in the Haitian relief effort can text GIVE to UNICEF (864233) to donate $5.

01/15 12:35:45 ET

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