ORLANDO - A return to game action soon is obviously hyping Markelle Fultz up. Although an exact date of when he will make his season debut hasn’t been determined just yet, the 6-foot-4 guard has been ramping up his on-the-court activity lately, now even doing contact drills.
While watching from the sidelines has been frustrating since tearing his ACL in his left knee last January, he’s pumped about the direction of the team, and is optimistic he will fit in well next to the team’s other young stars.
All the anticipation of what’s ahead on the court is just a piece of what’s exciting Fultz. Delighting him just as much is the community work he’s been doing to embolden children and families in Central Florida.
Throughout this holiday season, the former No. 1 overall draft pick has been reaching out to those in need. His most recent philanthropic participation came Wednesday, Dec. 22 when he joined his mother, Ebony, in delivering holiday presents to 67 children aged 3-5 from the Head Start program at Orlando’s Hal Marston Community Center. In addition, the parents of the kids received $100 Publix gift cards. Magic Head Coach Jamahl Mosley helped sponsor the event. Attending on his behalf with the team in Atlanta was his wife, Kristina.
“It’s just a blessing. To be able to touch (others) and be able to give back to other people’s lives, especially during this time, Christmas, and be able to just give them presents and see how happy they are to have these presents, and to be able to enjoy this time, it’s just an honor to me,” Fultz said.
“It’s huge (to arrange event with Coach Mosley),” he added. “As soon as he got here, we’ve talked about just everything going on in the city and just giving back. He’s a very giving person. He’s always been wanting to give back to the city, so for me to be able to talk to him and get this together and do this, it just means a lot.”
Head Start programs promote school readiness of infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children from low-income families. Early learning and development, health, and family well-being are among the targeted focus areas.
While interviewing for the Magic’s head coaching job, Mosley quickly discovered just how philanthropic the team is. Learning about everything the DeVos family does in the community and all the charity events the Magic have been a part of over the years inspired him.
Now that they are on the inside of the organization, Mosley and his family are ecstatic to be in a position where they can be an extension of everything the team does to help others reach their full potential.
“It means the world,” he said. “We talk about what it’s all about and it’s about being able to give back and take care of those in need, especially in times such as this. It means a ton. We have such a great organization that is giving back and wanting to give back. And Kelle does a great job. All of our guys do a great job of getting involved and being in the community.”
Both Fultz and Mosley did a lot of heavy community lifting around Thanksgiving as well. Fultz was in Eatonville just days before Thanksgiving supplying 300 turkeys, pantry items and produce to seniors and families. Mosley, meanwhile, joined Jalen Suggs and the Wagner brothers, Moe and Franz, at a drive-thru event where they distributed 450 meals to underserved Central Florida families. Mosley also spent Thanksgiving morning at the Coalition of the Homeless serving a breakfast that he purchased. It was the 29th year the Magic held that event for the homeless.
It’s always been in Fultz’s heart to help others. His mother taught him at an early age about the importance of community service, and she is extremely proud of the impact he’s making around the city. Even more special is when they get to show their love and appreciation for the community together.
“We love being in the community all year around, but especially during the holidays we love to be in the community and let them know that we are constantly thinking of them,” she said.
“It’s really cool. It’s a blessing. I feel like in this time that we are living in now, the kids are growing up (and absent) are the things that I grew up with like Santa and presents under the tree. So, it’s a blessing to be able to do this, and it’s a blessing to see the smiles on their faces.”
The Magic have been quite busy over the last week giving back to their community. On Dec. 15, the Magic provided Carver Middle School students who are part of the After School All Stars program gifts off their holiday wish lists. The very next day, Chuma Okeke, along with Pepsi Stronger Together, surprised 100 Boys & Girls Club members at the Joe R. Lee Branch with $100 gift cards and new electronic equipment for their teen lounge. Across town, E’Twaun Moore was at a Target hosting close to 70 children from the J.R. Smith Center for a holiday shopping spree. Each kid was given a $100 gift card, paid for by Moore and Magic teammate Cole Anthony.