Utah Jazz players Rudy Gobert, Danté Exum and Georges Niang get in the giving spirit with holiday donations

by Aaron Falk

After a tough loss on the road last week, Rudy Gobert emerged from the locker room and smiled.

A dozen or so children from a northwest Milwaukee neighborhood were waiting for the chance to meet the Utah Jazz star, who had just made a financial donation to improve their community center.

“It means everything,” Gobert said of the meeting. “Sometimes when you lose a game, you win a game, you get stuck in the bubble. But doing that, it helps me have an impact on the younger generations, and it also helps me realize there are things bigger than basketball. If you have a bad game and you just lost, you’re pissed about your game. But if you go out there and there some kids waiting for you… it just makes you happy.”

Gobert and his Utah Jazz teammates have been busy putting smiles on peoples’ faces this holiday season. Last week, forward Georges Niang dropped off gift cards, shoes and Utah Jazz gear at the YWCA in Salt Lake City. And guard Danté Exum made a stop at Candy Cane Corner—an annual collaboration between the Road Home and Volunteers of America-Utah that helps the homeless and people transitioning into new housing—to deliver 80 women’s coats, pots and pans, and dinnerware sets for families in need.

“It’s something nobody should have to go through, not having a home, not having a safe spot,” Exum said.

The Jazz guard said he wanted to make the delivery in person so that he could meet the volunteers that run the program in Sugarhouse.

“It creates a deeper connection coming in and seeing and meeting the people behind it,” he said. “These are the people that are fighting every year to make sure they’re helping people in need. To get in here and see what they do, it’s amazing. I know for sure this is something I’m going to do every year.”

Gobert, meanwhile, has been helping children near and far through his Rudy’s Kids Foundation. Gobert provided donations and met with Children at multiple stops on the team’s five-game road trip. When he returned home, Gobert visited the children at Neighborhood House in Salt Lake to provide them with Christmas gifts.

“It’s not just about doing things in Utah or in France. It’s about doing things everywhere and having an impact everywhere,” Gobert said. “There are a lot of charities that do a remarkable job that just don’t have much light and much support. It’s an opportunity for both of us to help the kids and help them do what they do and put a light on what they do... At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where the kid’s from.”

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