There is a very special group of sports superstars who are helping to make the world a better place for people who are at a disadvantage. Some of our favorite athletes have come a long way, not only in mastering their chosen professions, but also in building their personal wealth to insane levels. Not all of them were born into families with means, and they understand what it means to face challenges and overcome obstacles. Others seem to have had everything that they needed, but the athletes we’re talking about today all share one thing in common. They all give generously of their time and money to help in charity efforts. These are the 20 most charitable athletes in the world.
1. Serena Williams
Serena is actively involved in a variety of worthy causes. She supports the education of children in Asia in her role as the Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. She also founded the Serena Williams Foundation, which focuses on education, helping kids from impoverished families to make it to college, with funds also paying for legal aid for people at the poverty level. Through the foundation, Serena’s generosity has provided funding for immunization programs in Ghana and schools in Kenya, as well as support for the Elton John Aids Foundation, the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, Hearts of Gold and much more. She’s an athlete who truly cares and is devoted to helping people who are in need.
2. Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick is not afraid to stand up for what he believes is right, whether it’s the popular thing to do or not. He’s an NFL superstar who not only gives of his wealth, he also devotes time to several causes that he believes in. He made a commitment to donate a million dollars to help organizations that help people and communities which are considered to be oppressed. Some of the charities he supports include the Home2Heart organization to assist Atlanta’s single moms in acquiring beds and necessary furnishings, and he also supports New York’s Coalition for the Homeless charity. So far, Kaepernick has donated $900,000 of the million that he pledged for helping disadvantages people.
3. Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey, the rough and ready UFC star also has a big heart when it comes to supporting charity. She’s generous with her time and money and has set up a foundation that helps underprivileged people in getting mental health services that they need. She began the Gomper’s Judo program and has also donated time and funding for the Free Rice Campaign.
4. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most famous and wealthy soccer players on the planet. He brings in approximately $700,000 per week for his participation in the sport. The game has been good to him and he shares his wealth generously with the less fortunate. Cristiano helps individuals in need of medical assistance as well as organizations and he has given millions to charities that help people in need of health care and recovery after natural disasters. He is also the Save the Children organization’s global ambassador.
5. Lebron James
Lebron is a superstar in the NBA who didn’t come from a wealthy family, but his hard work and commitment to his profession as a basketball player has paid off with fame and tremendous wealth. Lebron has not forgotten where he came from. The son of a young mother who struggled financially and allowed LeBron to move in with a family that could give him greater opportunities knows what it means to be impoverished. He has not only given financial aid, but he’s also given of his time. He supports the Boys and Girls Clubs in America as well as several other charities focused on helping underprivileged children. He established the Lebron James Family Foundation which raises money and donates it to a variety of charities to help at risk kids in the Akron area with after school programs, mentoring, education, after school activities, and scholarships to the University of Akron when kids are college age. He also funded the building of the I Promise School in Akron for at risk kids as well as support of charities that provide bicycles, computers and school supplies.
6. John Cena
John Cena was a big name in the WWE, but he’s also involved in the Make a Wish Foundation charity. He gives of his time to help in fundraising events and also helps to fulfill the wishes of children who want to met him and spend a little time with the famous wrestler. He also supports the Susan G. Komen organization which raises funds for breast cancer awareness campaigns. He’s assisted in raising more than a million dollars for the charity.
7. Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps is another star athlete who is generous in supporting charities. He established his own foundation with a sponsor bonus of a million dollars, to help children who are underprivileged. He believes in giving back and he has a big heart when it comes to kids. Michael’s foundation helps kids with medical conditions and he has also given to the Make a Wish foundation.
*8. Carlos Beltran
Carlos Beltran received the SI’s Hope Award in 2017 in recognition of his kindness and generosity but he’s fierce when it comes to alerting the world that Puerto Rico is still in need of help in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. He saw the plight of the people after the devastating storm left many homeless and claimed the lives of several victims. It’s a country that is in need of rebuilding. Beltran donated one million of his own money to a charity fundraiser that brought in $1.5 million for aid to the people of the country. He also spends time advocating for the people of Puerto Rico.
*9. Derek Jeter
Derek Jeter was successful in the MLB as a player on the New York Yankees. He gained wealth and fame through his successful career. In 1996, Derek established the Turn 2 Foundation, which focuses on developing activities and programs that keep kids off of alcohol and drugs and supports healthy lifestyles in western Michigan and New York City. The foundation gives $1 million a year in donations to help kids in having education and resources for healthier living.
10. Neymar Jr
Neymar Jr is a Brazilian winger who founded his own charity organization called the Neymar Jr. Project Institute. The charity funds one of the most necessary resources on the face of the earth to those in need. It’s all about providing water that is fresh and clean for those in areas where this is a scarce commodity. Many of us here n the United States and other affluent countries take for granted the fact that we have clean water for consumption, but there are several places throughout the world where people do not have this luxury and they are forced to drink water that is contaminated or stale. Neyman Jr’s charity organization is making a big difference in the health, safety and comfort for those in areas where clean water is a luxury.
11. Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods has been called the best golfer in the world by some and he’s become a very rich and famous athlete, thanks to his amazing skill in the game. Tiger has spent the last two decades involved in charity work and support of worthy causes. He established the Tiger Woods Foundation to help kids who are at the poverty level have the money to go to college. The foundation focuses on education as well as children’s health, donating funds to the Shriners Hospitals for kids as well as Caddy for a Cure to fund medical research and the development of treatments, and more.
12. Roger Federer
Roger Federer has a big heart for kids and he established a foundation to empower the kids of Africa who are impoverished to have access to high quality education at an early age. The foundation has been in existence for over a decade and it also helps kids who live in poverty in his native Switzerland.
13. Yuna Tim
Yuna Tim is a Korean figure skater who has done very well in her professional career. She was a Goodwill ambassador for UNICEF and has helped to raise funds to help kids with serious illnesses. She is generous with her time in fundraising activities, but she is also a big giver. Yuna Tim has donated more than $1.8 million to help kids who are in need.
14. David Beckham
Soccer star avid Beckham is good on the field, but he’s also good at raising money for worthy causes. Beckham is a very generous athlete and he established the Victoria and David Beckham Charitable Trust. The organization focuses on providing wheelchairs and other support for kids who are in need. He supports UNICEF as well as the Red Cross, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Peace One Day, Malaria No More , Help for Heroes and the Elton John Aids Foundation.
15. Eli Manning
Eli Manning found both fame and fortune as the quarterback for the New York Giants. He’s an athlete with a big heart who believes in helping those who are in need. He’s big on raising funds for the Eli Manning Chldren’s Clinic, which is located in Mississippi. The clinic provides children who need outpatient care. Manning has helped to raise $3 million for the clinic.
16. J. J. Watt
NFL star J.J. Watt believes in supporting charities that help the underprivileged. He’s a staunch supporter of education and he is also very compassionate. After the Santa Fe High School shooting, he was there with the offer to cover the expenses for the funerals of the victims. J.J. gives of his time as well as money in fundraising for many charitable organizations. After Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas, he helped in an effort that raised $37 million to help in the recovery efforts. Watt also participated in the same Million Dollar Pledge along with Colin Kaepernick and other star athletes to donate to a varity of organizations which help with a variety of needs for people who are underprivileged. He’s an athlete who believes in doing all that he can to give back to those in need of help.
17. Curtis Granderson
Curtis established the Granderson’s Foundation Grand Kids Foundation. The charity provides inner city kids throughout the nation with educational assistance. Granderson himself travels throughout Florida, New York and Chicago to hold clinics to teach kids how to play baseball, as well as delivering lessons on how to become a leader and the importance of working hard and dedication. He sponsors trips for kids to attend Mets games which are held at Citi Field. He also gives time to fund raise for City Harvest of New York, the USO of Metropolitan New York, United Neighborhood Houses and the YMCA. Granderson gave $5 million of his own money to help in the building of a new baseball complex at the University of Illinois at Chicago which will also serve as an Urban Youth Academy.
18. Russell Wilson
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is also an athlete who gives generously to charity. He’s generous in supporting with monetary donations, which is appreciated and needed, but Russell spends a lot of time personally visiting the Seattle Children’s Hospital and spending time with the young patients there. He established “Invested with Russell” to raise money for local charities in the Seattle area as well as the “Why Not You” foundation to support a variety of causes for children. Russell Wilson in involved in several charity organizations giving both time and money where it’s needed.
19. Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald established the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund. Both from the funding available through the charity and his own personal funds, he gives generously to several different charities. The Fund provides donations of football helmets for youth football programs in the Minneapolis area among other causes. Larry took a trip to Ethiopia with a charity organization to assist with several ongoing projects to create a sustainable irrigation system and to plant trees in the region.
20. Ndamukong Suh
Ndamukong Suh is a controversial figure in football because some of his methods are rather questionable, but his heart for helping others shows the world the other side of the man within the competitive anything goes athlete. The Miami Dolphins defense tackle established the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation to make his corner of the world a better place, which happens to be Nebraska. The foundation provides school supplies and new backpacks for students who are in need because he highly values education and wants to make sure that every kid has what they need to be successful.
*21. Dikembe Mutombo
Dikembe Mutombo is an NBA star player who dreamed of helping those in desperate need in his native country of Kinshasha. The country is located within the Republic of Congo. Mutombo established the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital which is also a Research Center in his home country. It’s a hospital offering 300 beds and Mutombo himself put up the $15 million it cost to build the facility. His own mom died because she didn’t have access to hospital care and he named the facility after her.
*Those with an asterisk are retired