Brittney Griner Gives Back from Heart with Phoenix Shoe Drive

Several weeks ago, before she was an Olympic gold medalist, before she dropped a career-high 29 points, before she was garnering attention near the top of the SportsCenter Top 10 with a one-handed dunk off a pick-and-roll, Brittney Griner was driving home from work.

Her play hadn’t been at the level she wanted, her team’s results were inconsistent, but what had her attention on the drive home were the people by the side of a road and under a bridge. For all that she assumed these people were facing, to hear her tell it, what struck her was that many of them didn’t have shoes.

Shoes. The things that Nike ships right to her. The things she loves to collect. The things none of us leaves the house without. The things, it hadn’t previously occurred to her, we take for granted.

By now, you’ve probably seen this week’s video of what came of that drive home a month ago. This was the first culminating moment of the idea born on that drive home. She had seen people without shoes and decided to help them. Seems simple. BG and the Mercury did one weekend of donation drives and because of the generosity of fans, teammates, friends and Nike, she collected more than 500 pairs of shoes.

But the impact should extend beyond shoes.  It’s an example of the adage that sometimes the best way to help yourself is to help someone else. There’s a group of people in Phoenix who owe BG a thanks for a new pair of shoes. The rest of us should thank her for the reminder that everyone can make a difference. Each of us can see a need and develop a plan to help, and empower those around us to help, too. Each of us can leave the community around us a little better than we found it.