Basketball legend Michael Jordan was in tears on Thursday when he helped to open the first of two clinics in Charlotte, which were made possible thanks to a $7 million donation from the Hornets owner.
“As you can see, it’s a very emotional thing for me to be able to give back to a community that’s supported me over the years,” Jordan said during a ceremony that marked the official opening of the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic, according to WSOC.
The facility will serve underprivileged residents who may not have access to health insurance and will provide them with physical, dental and behavioral health services. It is located in one of the poorest areas of Charlotte, the news station reported.
Jordan made the multimillion-dollar donation to Novant in 2017.
“When I heard Novant Health’s plan to bring not only primary care, but other needed services to the community, there was no doubt in my mind that this is where I wanted to help make an impact,” Jordan, 56, said in a statement posted to the Novant website.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to give back in this way, because I believe that your ZIP code or neighborhood should not determine the quality of your health care — or whether or not you can even get care at all,” he added.
The clinic is already making an impact in the neighborhood.
“There’s a lot of people that are living here who are low income, they don’t have health insurance,” Sharelle Blake, a patient at the clinic, told WSOC.
“This is going to open many opportunities for the whole community,” she continued. “Mr. Jordan cannot imagine just exactly what he did for me and my family.”
The facility is equipped with 12 rooms and has since served 300 patients since its soft opening three weeks ago.
On Friday, Jordan opened up about the clinic and why he’s supporting athletes who are taking a stand for what they believe in.
While he didn’t spend his time speaking out on issues during his time on the court, Jordan’s time off the court has been much different.
“Now I have more time to understand things around me, understand causes, issues and problems and commit my voice and financial support,” he told Melvin, who asked what made Jordan turn to activism after retiring from basketball.
“I think what drives me is that I know this clinic is needed within the community, and it’s going to provide a certain service,” Jordan said of helping with The Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic.
Jordan shared that he wasn’t concerned with giving back as much while he was playing because his “tunnel vision was [his] craft” and he wanted to focus on being the best player he could.
When Melvin, 40, asked Jordan his thoughts on current athletes playing their sport and being activists at the same time, the retired player shared that he thinks “it’s great.”
“If they understand the causes, obviously if they feel their voice matters, that’s great and I support that,” he said.
The Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic is open for business!📍3149 Freedom Drive Charlotte, NC 28202 pic.twitter.com/gbS2AzZInA— Novant Health (@NovantHealth) October 17, 2019
Along with his work on the medical centers, Jordan has used his finances for other good causes.
In September, Jordan’s spokesperson Estee Portnoy released a press release confirming that the retired NBA star had pledged to donate $1 million to “organizations assisting with relief efforts in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.”
In a statement, Jordan said, “I am devastated to see the destruction that Hurricane Dorian has brought to the Bahamas, where I own property and visit frequently. My heart goes out to everyone who is suffering and to those who have lost loved ones.”
Continued the Charlotte Hornets owner, “As the recovery and relief efforts continue, I will be tracking the situation closely and working to identify non-profit agencies where the funds will have the most impact. The Bahamian people are strong and resilient and I hope that my donation will be of help as they work to recover from this catastrophic storm.”