Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea transported 40,000 pounds of food, water and other supplies to his hometown of Puerto Rico, with the help of team owner Mark Cuban.
Cuban loaned the team plane to Barea so he could bring the supplies to help in the recovery efforts from Hurricane Maria. Barea left for Puerto Rico Monday afternoon and handed out the supplies Tuesday morning.
“I was really proud of J.J. and how quickly he got involved and how hard he worked to make all of this happen,” Cuban told ESPN in a text message.
“I am lucky to have an owner like Mark Cuban that has gigantic planes and a bigger heart,” Barea told Mavs.com. “It took just one text to him and five minutes later we were in contact with everyone at the plane. A few hours later we were getting it loaded with food, water, and generators. We bought every generator we could find. We cleaned the shelves. We got it together very quickly.”
The return to Puerto Rico also allowed Barea to reunite with his family. Initially he and his brothers were not able to get in contact with their parents a week after the storm hit. Eventually, he was able to get in touch with them and brought his mom back to the mainland Tuesday night, while his dad remained to help the recovery efforts.
“…Five days without speaking to your family is tough, Barea told Mavs.com. “It’s such a habit. I know people to this day that still haven’t spoken with their families. It’s pretty crazy. My mom has been so stressed and not being able to communicate with me or my other brothers who also live in the states. So seeing her today and hugging her was a good feeling and truly a relief. It means everything to me.”
— José Juan Barea (@jjbareapr) September 20, 2017
Barea is the only active NBA player who is Puerto Rican. His wife, who’s also Puerto Rican, started an online fundraiser last Wednesday that has raised $140,000.
Barea wasn’t the only Puerto Rican athlete who has donated to the hurricane relief. Former MLB outfielder Carlos Beltran gave $1 million and started his own fund.