It’s commendable when someone with the means can meaningfully spread their wealth. But what do you call it when you use a small portion of your fortune to completely change someone’s life?
The right words were hard to come by Wednesday, if not completely inescapable, when Bam Adebayo, the talented young forward coming off his first All-Star season and a run to the NBA Finals with the Heat, surprised one Miami family with a holiday gift of a lifetime.
Adebayo showed up to the house of Travillia Bogan, a single mother of two sets of twins on the verge of facing eviction, and presented her with a year’s worth of rent. A week before Christmas, it’s the best present Adebayo has ever had the privilege of giving.
“It’s gotta be No. 1,” Adebayo told Complex exclusively. “Just helping somebody like that, in that situation, and all the negative situations that’s happened to her the last couple of months, that’s definitely top of my list.”
More than just handing over money, the 23-year-old burgeoning basketball star also pledged to help with the upkeep and maintenance of the house, like upgrading the décor and improving the landscaping around the property. It was an incredible gesture by Adebayo that may surprise some basketball fans. But it’s absolutely on brand if you know Bam.
The Kentucky product, who is entering his fourth year in the NBA and enjoyed a breakout campaign during the 2019-20 season, has gone above and beyond in the Miami community since he arrived in town as the 14th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Adebyao started the BBB (BAM, Books and Brotherhood) Foundation and has previously conducted toy drives at the youth center in Liberty City. Thanks to the massive 5-year, $163 million contract extension he signed with the Heat this offseason, Adebayo felt it was only right he take his giving up a few levels this holiday season.
When Bogan, who has struggled to support her family following a car accident two years ago, was presented with the gift she was speechless. So was Adebayo, who watched from a distance due to NBA COVID protocols. Bogan’s appreciation—and, frankly, her relief from the stresses of worrying about her family's future—was conveyed through tears. Words were not necessary.
“You could feel it through tears of joy,” says Adebayo. “There was no conversation. It was pure joy for her and her family. They’re not getting evicted for Christmas.”
Adebayo’s motivation to give back stems from his mother, Marilyn Blount. She instilled a sense of compassion and charity in her son from an early age, reminding him often that even though their means were meager, they were lucky compared to other less fortunate families. Adebayo paid Blount back for all her sacrifices, buying her a house for her 56th birthday earlier this month. While she raised Adebayo in North Carolina in a single-wide trailer, Blount endured some of the same struggles as Bogan. So it was perfect that Adebayo came through with the assist.
“My mom is such a giving and loving person so I feel like it was inherited, for real,” says Adebayo. “That’s how she built me to be. That’s how I’m molded. I’ve always wanted to help people and I’ve always wanted to make someone’s life easier.”
While he doesn’t know if he’ll repeat the same gesture next year with a new family, Adebayo guarantees he’ll be spreading good cheer across Miami somehow, someway as long as he’s playing for the Heat. Giving back has always been a mantra of his—RAKing, aka doing random acts of kindness, is what he likes to call it. That means you might catch him paying for someone’s Starbucks order or giving a fast food worker in the middle of a double-shift a little extra cash for excellent service. It’s all about setting the right example.
“Through all this philanthropy that I’m doing, I hope that I spark one kid to change his decision-making, his lifestyle, or who he’s hanging with,” says Adebayo. “To go from being in the streets and me doing something special for them that can shift their whole mindset. That’s all I can ask for.”