Fall 2021 SS Magazine

L.A. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw joins the fight against human trafficking

While 31-year-old Clayton Kershaw’s baseball career is nearing its final act, his legacy off the field is picking up steam. 

An ESPN profile of Kershaw documented his recent trip to the Dominican Republic as part of Kershaw’s partnership with International Justice Mission, an anti-human trafficking organization dedicated to both raising awareness of trafficking, and actively freeing those trapped in it. While there, Kershaw met with Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina to advocate for a strong partnership between the country and IJM. He also went undercover in Boca Chica, a notorious hotbed of trafficking and prostitution in Santo Domingo.

“I’m excited to meet the people on the front lines who have dedicated their lives to fighting the trafficking and slavery in the DR,” Kershaw said after his meeting with the president. “You can write checks, which is awesome. Every nonprofit needs the support. But to put boots on the ground and go see it can change your heart.”

The Dominican Republic is not the only country where Kershaw has been active. Kershaw’s foundation, Kershaw’s Challenge, has partnered since 2012 with Arise Africa, a non-profit dedicated to fighting economic, physical and spiritual poverty throughout the continent. Last August, Kershaw’s Challenge broke ground on a school in Zambia, where it has already built two homes that house 17 children who were abused, neglected or malnourished. Approximately 150 additional kids are given food at the houses, but at three different schools. Arise Christian School, which is a partnership with Arise Africa, will soon be able to provide all of its services on one campus.

All this is happening as Kershaw’s on-the-field, Hall-of-Fame career nears its final chapter. Still a top-tier pitcher for the championship-contending L.A. Dodgers — he has a 3.31 ERA and 2-0 record over five starts this season — injuries have kept him off the field each of the past three years, and his fastball’s velocity has dipped to the low 90s. Kershaw’s ability to adapt as a pitcher from overpowering to finesse could be the key to how long he’s able to extend his sterling career.

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