On July 21, 2020, Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon announced the launch of his foundation, the Brogdon Family Foundation, to put his dream into action. With his foundation's first anniversary nearing, the University of Virginia graduate traveled nearly 8,000 miles to witness his life's greatest passion in progress.
As a part of Hoops4Humanity, an initiative started by his foundation, Brogdon spent eight days in Eastern Africa to assist with and monitor the installation of clean water wells in several communities along the continent's beautiful yet oft-forgotten region. The trip took him to cities in both Kenya and Tanzania, as he witnessed the impact of his desire to improve the lives of those who struggle with finding an essential daily resource. It was a passion that emerged after taking trips to Africa while growing up.
His voyages to Africa began around the age of nine. He had the privilege of going to Ghana, a now-popular country in West Africa. However, Brogdon explained the country was not always that way.
"A lot of people talk about (Ghana) as the pride of the continent," he said. "It's the calling card, sort of, for a lot of Americans to go over and visit right away. But before their economy took off the poverty was really, really bad. People were suffering there.
"I got to see that as a kid. And I couldn't really understand it or articulate it at that point. But I knew that it had bothered me to a point to where I wanted to make a change."
His subsequent trip to Malawi at the age of 12 reinforced this belief. His bachelor's in history and master's in public policy then kicked it into overdrive. From there, Brogdon knew he would use his talents on the court to create the opportunity to change the world off of it.
"Basketball, for me right now, is the biggest tool that I can use to get (my biggest passion) done," he said. "So, to be able to go on this trip — this trip is the highlight of my summer, other than spending time with my family."
The trip's itinerary was fun but certainly not for the lazy. Brogdon politely called the voyage "fast-paced" before rattling off a list of objectives longer than a convenience store receipt. 7:00 AM breakfasts preceded bus rides that lasted up to four hours, depending on the locale and daily mission. He and a handful of others, including Memphis Grizzlies guard Tim Frazier, visited everything from city side elementary schools to small rural communities. Yet each adventure had the same goal — make sure these people have easy access to clean water.
"To be able to go over there and see what our work has provided for people, it's awesome," Brogdon said.
Brogdon elaborated, stating it was a "blessing in itself" to "meet different people that are experiencing different things every day." It made him hopeful that his actions had a lasting impact on those who may not know the beauty underneath the surface of his favorite region of the world.
After nearly a week's worth of viewing the initiative's progress — and a safari trip through the legendary Maasai Mara National Reserve — Brogdon visited Tanzania's largest city, the bustling Dar es Salaam. He explained that, while big, the city "doesn't get a lot of press" compared to Cairo, Egypt, Marrakesh, Morocco, and other popular tourist cities. Nonetheless, he claims the city is "as beautiful as those."
While not alone in this initiative — the roster of stars chipping in includes 12 other NBA players and four WNBA players — Brogdon's mother, Jann Adams, helps run his foundation at the top, making his passion something that runs in the family. The five-year NBA player hopes to use his platform to inform all NBA fans on the conditions of the less fortunate living in other places on Earth.
"There are hundreds of millions of people that are living without clean water," he said. He then recalled the issues that extend beyond just drinking water. Without clean water access, communities would have to rely on unsafe water for showering and cooking. Animals could pass bacteria along if they ingested some as well. The lack of nearby clean-water access forces young girls to forgo education opportunities to help collect water.
"They have to go out and get the water, fetch the water all day, and it takes hours," he said. "They can't get an education because they're gone for school for so long. It impacts the families."
"It has just a profound, all-around effect on, I think, a whole community."
But just like his playing style, Brogdon wants to share the glory with a team. But in this case, he hopes his squad is much larger than an active NBA roster.
"If it's not my initiative, that's okay," he said. "The goal is to impact as many people as you can, and impact who you have a passion for."
The mindset Brogdon has comes from a good place. It is a place that is rooted in sincerity, generosity, and modesty. As he takes his basketball nickname, "The President" to another level of meaning, Pacers fans are more than lucky to have him represent Indianapolis.
For those that wish to read more information on Brogdon's foundation, they can visit BrogdonFamilyFoundation.org. There, fans also can donate to any member of Hoops4Humanity's NBA or WNBA roster to help them with their initiative.