Paul with his grandfather and role model, Nathaniel Jones, in 2002. / CHRIS PAUL WITH GRANDFATHER: COURTESY PAUL FAMILY
PAUL IN ACTION: LAYNE MURDOCH, NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Here's the game plan for Oct. 23:
USA WEEKEND Magazine, the NBA and NBA Players Association are joining forces for Make A Difference Day 2010. This month and next, read inspirational words in this magazine from some of the NBA's biggest stars on why they choose to help others. Watch for messages about Make A Difference Day on NBATV, NBA.com and NBPA.org. Then, turn your inspiration into real-life action on Make A Difference Day. To learn more about the NBA's commitment to making a difference off the court, visit NBA.com/nbacares and nbpa.org/community.
My parents taught me early in life the importance of helping others. Whether volunteering at our church or cleaning up a street that my AAU basketball team adopted, giving back to the community has always been a part of my life.
When I was drafted by the NBA in 2005, I realized I had the opportunity to touch many lives, so I started the CP3 Foundation. The first thing we did was refurbish a basketball court in Winston-Salem, N.C., and name it after my grandfather, Nathaniel Jones, who was killed during a robbery in 2002.
My grandfather was such an important influence in my life. He was the first African American to own a gas station in North Carolina, and I used to watch him let certain customers fill their car and leave without paying. I didn't understand his behavior at first. Then I realized that it was his own form of charity — helping people who couldn't afford to buy gas while allowing them to maintain their dignity. I also honor him through the Nathaniel Jones Scholarship Fund, which is awarded annually to one student to attend Wake Forest University, where I went to college.
Helping kids and my adopted city of New Orleans is also among my passions. USA WEEKEND's Make A Difference Day is a great opportunity to put the focus on your own passions. Imagine the power of millions of Americans uniting on this one day with the single mission of helping others. That's amazing.
I hope you'll get out there and join them. It's a great feeling to see the smiles you'll create. It can be as simple as organizing a food drive, cleaning a park or visiting an elderly neighbor. There are so many ways you can give.