Most people know Udonis Haslem, “UD”, as the former Captain of the Miami Heat, a three-time NBA champion, the longest-tenured player in the NBA at this time, “the OG,” and “Mr. 305.” But what endears him to the people of Miami, is his authenticity. UD has never forgotten where he comes from and he has consistently turned every traumatic experience in his own life or in the lives of those close to him, into opportunities to help others.
Born into poverty in Liberty City, UD experienced hardships as a child and knew what it meant to not have hope. Through the grace of God, he did have a few good angels in his life, the talent to play basketball, and the opportunity at a better life. Mindful of his angels, his talent, and his opportunities, he worked hard to always be better, because he felt an obligation to always help those in need. It was at the very beginning of his NBA career when tragedy struck and a friend of the family passed away from a brain aneurysm, leaving behind her young children, when UD and his stepmother, Barbara Wooten, stepped in to immediately provide school supplies and uniforms for the children. Unbeknownst to them at this time, this was the beginning of what became the Udonis Haslem Children’s Foundation, also known as UD Kids.
UD Kids was initially fully self-funded by a young UD whose NBA contract was not even secure. However, the family brought joy to inner city children, in situations quite like UD’s childhood, by gifting them toys and school supplies. After almost two decades of organic growth, the foundation has secured partners with similar values and has been able to reach even more children and expand our goals to include more programming to address broader needs that affect our children.
In 2022, UD Kids became The Udonis Haslem Foundation to widen our scope of impact. In addition to UD Kids which is still one of our main pillars, The Udonis Haslem Foundation also focuses on mental health initiatives, especially as they relate to criminal justice reform, accessibility programs such as low-income housing, and minority owned small businesses.
To give hope to children and families in underserved communities by facilitating exposure to opportunities and access to care and resources.