Most of the time when an athlete's name is mentioned off the field, it is for negative reasons. However, some athletes go out of their way to give back to the community by either spending their time or their money helping charities and finding ways to get crucial medical care to the under-served. These athletes make a difference in their communities and in communities around the world. In this article, we will look at the 12 most charitable athletes.

What Are Charitable Athletes?

Charitable athletes are sport players that invest their time and financial resources to make the world a better place. These athletes involve themselves in charity projects that are meaningful to them and their communities. Some spend huge sums of their own money while others volunteer their time. Others use their influence and social status to raise funds from friends and fans, and they use these funds for charitable activities.

Do Charitable Athletes Make A Difference?

Those who are keen enough and those who are interested in charity organization know for sure that charitable athletes positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. From donating to worthy causes such as education, child protection, healthcare, sports, water and sanitation, or human rights programs, charitable athletes not only put smiles on faces of the disadvantaged but also shape destinies.

The 10 Most Charitable Athletes

Let us take a look at some of the most charitable athletes, in no specific order. While the list changes from year to year as different athletes spend more or less and new athletes come to prominence, these 12 have been consistently near the top for all of their career.

1. LeBron James

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Considered by many as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, LeBron James is also one of the most charitable athletes around. His exploits on the court need not be explained; it is his efforts to better the lives of the less fortunate that put him on this list.

King James, as he is commonly known, grew up in Ohio and comes from a humble background. Through the LeBron James Family Foundation he has raised around $40 million which he has used to support over 1,100 thousands kids to school in his hometown. And that's not all. His ESPN TV special The Decision raised $2.5 million that was used for charity.

Additionally, James created the I Promise School that helps at-risks youth access quality education. He also funds charities that supports at-risk children trying to stay in school by offering laptops, bicycles and other school supplies.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

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Cristiano Ronaldo is considered by many soccer fans and critics as one of the greatest soccer players of all time. His position as one of the greats can be confirmed by his 5 Ballon d'Or awards, one of which he sold at £530,000 at an auction and donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

He also donates frequently to individual needs, such as $83,000 to a 10-year-old who needed to undergo brain surgery. His efforts to help children in need have made him the ambassador of the Save The Child organization.

He has also donated towards the building of a pediatric hospital in Chile and also towards conserving mangrove forests in Indonesia. He also made a £120,000 donation to a cancer center that treated his mother in his home country Portugal. This is just a short list of Ronaldo's generous contributions to the needs of others.

3. Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey hit the headlines when she became the first woman signed to the UFC in 2012. Just because she enjoys bashing her opponents' heads does not mean she is cold-hearted, though.

She has invested her time and money in helping disadvantaged people access quality mental health services through Didi Hirsch 501c3. Her other notable charitable efforts includes her involvement with the Free Rice Campaign and also founding the Gomper's Judo program.

4. Michael Phelps

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Michael Phelps does not need an introduction. This swimming superstar formed his own foundation after making a  pledge to sponsor children from poor backgrounds in the quest for access to quality healthcare services. He also donates regularly to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

5. Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson plays quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. What makes him one of the most charitable athletes is the amount of time and effort he puts into improve the lives of children in Seatle. Russell Wilson sacrifices enormous amounts of time with sick children at the Seattle Children's Hospital.

He also formed the Invested with Russell organization that raises money for charities in Seattle. His concern for children also pushed him to form the “Why Not You” foundation that raises money to fund development projects that help children. In addition to his compassion for children, he is also a national ambassador for the Charles Ray III Diabetes Association.

6. Neymar Jr

Neymar Jr is a Brazilian soccer star that plays forward for the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club in France. He partnered with PayPal to provide clean water to around 85,000 Brazilians. He also founded the Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr which initially targeted 2,300 disadvantaged youngsters from Brazil by offering them extracurricular educational and sporting activities.

The institution also caters to families of the children enrolled there by teaching them how to read and write, how to recycle, and how to manage their health and finances. He has also spent a lot fighting against Ebola.

7. Eli Manning

One of the most charitable athletes is Eli Manning, quarterback for the New York Giants. Some years back, he donated $1 million to the University of Mississippi.

However, what makes him one of the most charitable athletes is his Eli Manning Children's Clinic. Eli Manning spent the time between 2007 and 2012 raising the $2.5 million he needed to build the children's clinic, which now caters for the medical needs of over 75,000 children annually.

8. Ndamukong Suh

Ndamukong Suh plays defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His exploits off the field are without doubt noteworthy and commendable. Ndamukong Suh donated $2 million to the University of Nebraska. A huge portion of that money went towards Nebraska Athletics, while the rest went to the UNL College of Engineering. In 2013, he donated $250,000 towards the construction of a turf field in Grant High School where he is an alumnus.

In addition to these cash donations, he founded the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation, which provides school supplies and scholarships to disadvantaged children to ensure they do not miss out on education.

9. Serena Williams

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Serena Williams is another athlete that does not need an introduction. She is also one of the most charitable athletes in the world. She is the Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF working with the renowned NGO to support education for children in Asia. Her quest to see as many children as possible attend school pushed her to form the Serena Williams Foundation. The foundation also provides legal aid to people who cannot afford legal services. It further funds schools in Kenya and immunization programs in Ghana.

The Serena Williams Foundation also works in collaboration with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and Hearts of Gold, among others.

10. Tiger Woods

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Everybody was happy to see Tiger Woods make a come back after going through a rough patch early in his career and personal life. Apart from his prowess on the golf course, Tiger Woods has been involved in charity work for over 20 years.

His Tiger Woods Foundation has helped put disadvantage kids through college. Apart from educating poor kids, his foundation also focuses on children's health. The foundation has injected funds into medical research and the development of treatments to curb diseases that are common among children.


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Some athletes, like Russell Wilson, take time from their schedules personally and make an effort to make the world a better place. They sacrifice their personal time and emotional strength to encourage the sick or use their fame to inspire others to give.

Other athletes, like Cristiano Ronaldo, make enormous financial contributions, giving large proportions of their own income to help the needy. All these amazing athletes are just as amazing off the field of play, consistently and intentionally working hard to improve the lives of the less fortunate members of the community; and sometimes at great personal cost.

Their efforts should not go unnoticed, and that is why we came up with a list of some of the most charitable athletes as a form of recognition and appreciation. Their efforts should do more than just bring them attention, however: they should also inspire all of us to be just as generous with what we have. 

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