It’s that time of the year again: fantasy football is back.
While all the armchair quarterbacks are tirelessly skimming through rankings and sweating-out mock drafts, one Sun has taken the initiative to help others through the virtual scoreboard.
Ty Jerome has teamed up with the Brogdon Family Foundation and other NBA players to compete head-to-head with fans as all the proceeds gathered benefit a great cause. The entry donations made from the Water Bowl Fantasy Football league will directly impact the Hoops4Humanity initiative to link clean water to schools in East Africa and make further investments in their education.
“The guys are thrilled to be part of the first ever Water Bowl Fantasy Football league,” Indiana Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon said. “There is tremendous basketball talent in our group and we’re excited to connect with fans using some different skills. You might not be able to take us on the court, but we hope you’ll give your best shot in the Water Bowl. Clean water is needed now more than ever. That makes it a win all around.”
Jerome joins other players across the NBA such as Brogdon, Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Harris and Milwaukee Bucks’ George Hill in the season-long event to engage with fans, while lending a helping hand to those in need around the world.
“People always talk about giving back,” Jerome said. “Giving back to your communities is great. Giving back to the people that invest in you is great. But, this is one of the biggest issues in the world. We think we have it really bad during this pandemic, and some people do, but imagine, you come home and you can't drink clean water. You have nowhere to bathe. Trying to donate as much as we can and give back as much as we can.”
This is the inaugural campaign from the Brogdon Family Foundation after first launching in July 2020. The non-profit felt that the athletes involved could branch a large net of fans throughout the NBA to participate in an exciting and charitable event.
“The primary goals of the foundation are to bring water and education to communities in East Africa,” Executive Director of the Brogdon Family Foundation and Brogdon’s mother Jann Adams said. “Also, we have some domestic educational programs as well. Hoops for Humanity is an initiative of the Brogdon Family Foundation, which brings together players from all across the NBA and WNBA to participate and join us in raising funds to support the initiatives in Africa, primarily starting with water and then expanding to schools.”
While the need for clean water in lower-income countries has been a necessity for years, the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly increased the urgency and priority of sanitation throughout the world.
“I can't really imagine not being able to drink water, wash your hands, shower,” Jerome said. “We think we're struggling, but imagine during a pandemic, you can't drink clean water.”
The desire to assist in this initiative began during Brogdon’s childhood.
“When Malcolm was little, Malcolm went on two mission trips to Africa,” Adams said. “While he was there, he was really exposed to the significant pervasive poverty that is there. One of the major issues in East Africa, but in other parts of Africa as well, is access to clean water. We know in a time of COVID, but even before that, there are waterborne diseases. Girls and women in these traditional communities are responsible for water gathering. So, a lot of times girls can't go to school because they have to go gather water and they're walking for miles to get access to water that sometimes isn't even clean.”
Although at different times, Jerome and Brogdon both attended the University of Virginia where Jerome was not only able to learn about Brogdon as a basketball player, but as a humanitarian as well.
“He's a UV legend,” Jerome said. “I never got to play with him, but I was a senior in high school when he was a senior in college. They retired his number when I was a freshman in college. All you hear was just about how great of a person he was as well as being a great player.”
While the two Virginia guards may never have taken the court together, Jerome ultimately teamed up with Brogdon beyond the hardwood in 2018 with Hoops2O as part of the Chris Long Foundation.
“Ty joined Hoops2O and together those players raised about $750,000 in about 18 months,” Adams said. “Malcolm wanted to expand the work so that it wouldn't simply be doing a well in a community. It would be doing a well near a school, making sure that the school could manage the infrastructure of the well and sustain it. Then, support the school in ways that help ensure that the children can go to school - that they have adequate equipment. So, Ty's been with us before because he started with Hoops2O and then he has continued his partnership. We're really delighted for that.”
Due to their previous experience working together and the impact they were able to make, it was a fast and easy decision for Jerome when Brogdon asked him about joining the fantasy football league.
“He was always there for me as basketball buddies - whatever I needed when I was in college, especially making the transition to the NBA,” Jerome said. “As I got settled in the NBA, he asked me if I was up for joining it. I didn't hesitate at all. I said, 'Of course.' An amazing cause and amazing foundation. I'm just really happy to be a part of it.”
Just as Jerome admires Brogdon’s community efforts, Brogdon shares a similar respect for the Suns point guard.
“Tell them that Ty's an incredible leader,” Brogdon asked Adams to share. “He led that team to the NCAA championship - that had never been done in UVA history. He's an incredibly hard worker. He's a person of high integrity. Those are the things that I think sort of brought them together.”
During the 13-week, head-to-head format NFL season, fans will manage their fantasy teams with potential for bragging rights and prizes all while providing the gift of clean water. The direct matchups against the NBA stars will be part of the fun, but the ultimate reward goes to the winner of the league: an all exclusive trip to NBA All-Star Weekend.
“For players to be able to connect with the people that support them and for fans to connect with the people that they root for - it's awesome on both sides,” Jerome said. “When you get engagement and involvement on both sides, it's always fun. There'll be a play against me. I don't really have a great fantasy football background, so I probably won't do well, but I think it would just be fun to see some of some of the fans. They're also playing for a great prize - a trip to All-Star Weekend.”
Jerome admits that he may need to ask for some fantasy advice throughout the season, but whether he’s got either of his guys in Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes at the helm, he’s just proud to be assisting in the great cause.
“Just to enjoy it,” Jerome said. “Have fun with it. That's what I'm going to do. Enjoy the connection if you're a fan with the players. Just understand it's for a very great cause.”
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Don’t Sleep on Basketball is a content series that captures the unprecedented times we’re facing through the lens of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. Basketball sits at the intersection of culture, entertainment and sport, which puts the Suns & Mercury organization in the perfect position to serve as participant, voyeur and storyteller during this unparalleled era. The dynamic initiative is available across multiple mediums, including FOX Sports Arizona, Suns and Mercury social channels, YouTube, and editorially on Suns.com.