Divac Creates New Team With “You Can Too” Campaign
Posted Sep 22 2007 11:35AM
CHICAGO, Sept. 17, 2007 – Sixteen-year NBA veteran Vlade Divac announced today that he has launched the “You Can Too” initiative, a four-month campaign to benefit refugees of Serbia and Africa. The program tips off from Sept. 21-23, 2007, with a weekend fundraiser in Serbia that will feature a dinner, carnival, free concert and museum dedication. Divac, who will share the festivities with current and former NBA players and coaches, will also celebrate his official retirement from professional basketball during the weekend.
“You Can Too” aims to raise three million dollars to purchase and restore over 500 abandoned homes in villages throughout Serbia and Africa, providing shelter for approximately 2,000 refugees currently living homeless. The initiative is a collaborative effort between the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Serbian Refugees Committee, and the Humanitarian Organization Divac (HOD). HOD was founded by the seven-foot-one center and is led by his wife Snezana. Over the past nine years, Divac, through his Divac Children’s Foundation, has provided more than $2.5 million in humanitarian assistance and educational programs to children internationally and in the United States.
The three-day extravaganza begins on Friday, Sept. 21, with the “All Stars Party,” a ceremonial dinner at the White Palace in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. Hosted by the country’s royal family, Prince Aleksandar and Princess Katarina Karadjordjevic, the event will include entertainment and a grand-scale auction. On Saturday, Sept. 22, the festivities continue in Belgrade with a street basketball competition for children under the age of 16. The basketball contest will include champions from the “21 Across 21” Tournament, which began last weekend in 21 Serbian cities. To honor Divac’s number when he played for the Sacramento Kings, each of the 21 cities will host their own three-on-three tournament, with every winner advancing to the Belgrade event.
The evening of the 22nd, a carnival with as many as 500 children participating will take place at the capital’s Kalemegdan fortress, followed by a free concert at City Hall. The “Party for Serbia” concert will feature performances by special guests The James Brown Family, African musical artists Mori Cante and Raste, and Serbian performers Bajaga, Van Gogh, and others.
“It has always been my dream to host a spectacular event for Belgrade, my birth town of Prijepolje and the people of Serbia,” said Divac. “This is a way for me to thank everyone who believed in me throughout my career and helped me become the man I am today. I also want to take the opportunity to address the very important issues that face refugees, not only in my country, but in Africa as well. The ‘You Can Too’ initiative will reach out and help these people, and it is my hope that citizens everywhere will support the cause.”
The weekend concludes on Sunday, Sept. 23 with a trip to the small town of Prijepolje, Serbia. There, Divac will officially open the “Vlade Divac” Museum, an exhibition that chronicles a basketball career that began in Prijepolje when he was a tall 12-year-old boy dwarfing his teacher, and eventually ended in the NBA. The museum will display European jerseys and basketball-related equipment; practice gear and official NBA uniforms from the Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets, and Kings; international competition medals; newspaper and magazine articles from all over the world; game video; photos; letters from fans and children; and a special section dedicated to his humanitarian efforts.
“My goal for the museum is to show young people today that you don’t have to be born in a big city to become successful,” said Divac. “Hard work, confidence, and respect are the keys to building a full life and thriving profession. I hope the museum illustrates this message and the children in Prijepolje learn from it.”
In addition to the many Serbian basketball legends on the guest list, former and current NBA players scheduled to appear at the event are Sasha Danilovic, Bobby Jackson (New Orleans Hornets), Toni Kukoc, Sarunas Marciulionis, Scot Pollard (Boston Celtics), Coach Gregg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs), Dino Radja, Glen Rice, Peja Stojakovic (Hornets), Sasha Vujacic (Lakers), and Chris Webber.
Divac was selected by the Lakers with the 26th overall selection of the 1989 NBA Draft, and played for the Lakers (1989-96, 2004-05), Hornets (1996-98) and Kings (1998-2004) throughout his NBA career. The 2001 NBA All-Star joins Hakeem Olajuwon and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in NBA history to amass 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots. A deft passer and one of the game’s most complete big men, Divac boasts career averages of 11.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.4 blocked shots in 1,134 total games. Divac, who played professionally in Serbia and Yugoslavia prior to joining the NBA ranks, helped guide Yugoslavia to a gold medal in the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis.