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2013 in Review: UNICEF’s Year in Sports

Cleveland Cavalier All-Star Kyrie Irving works with students at a basketball clinic during a field visit to South Africa in August

Cleveland Cavalier All-Star Kyrie Irving works with students at a basketball clinic during a field visit to South Africa in August. ©U.S. Fund for UNICEF/Karin Schermbrucker

2013 was a great year for UNICEF and the U.S. Fund’s sports partnerships in the United States and abroad. Basketball players stood tall, as they always do, but athletes and organizations from other sports worked equally enthusiastically with UNICEF to help make the world better for kids. Here are highlights:

Tyson Chandler — The U.S. Fund proudly announced New York Knicks All-Star center Tyson Chandler as its newest UNICEF Ambassador — the first American National Basketball Association (NBA) player to serve in that role. Soon afterwards, he lit the UNICEF Snowflake, helping to raise awareness of the Typhoon Haiyan emergency.

UNICEF Ambassador Tyson Chandler, his wife Kimberly Tyson and U.S. Fund President and CEO Caryl M. Stern attend the 2013 UNICEF Snowflake Lighting in New York City.

UNICEF Ambassador Tyson Chandler (center), with his wife Kimberly Tyson (left) and U.S. Fund President and CEO Caryl M. Stern, helped light the UNICEF Snowflake in New York City in November. Courtesy of Bryan Bedder/ ©Getty 2013

The NBA, NBPA and Erik Spoelstra —The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Player’s Association (NBPA) teamed up to donate $250,000 to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in support of emergency relief efforts in the Philippines. Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra appeared in a U.S. Fund public service announcement to spur fundraising efforts.

Spoelstra Screen Shot No Cap

Pau Gasol — UNICEF Ambassador and two-time NBA champion Pau Gasol also supported UNICEF’s Typhoon Haiyan emergency work. Playing for the Los Angeles Lakers during a game in November, he pledged $1,000 for every point he scored toward critical relief efforts. Gasol’s game capped a year of supporting UNICEF that included a field visit to Syrian refugee camp in northern Iraq.

Gasol screen shot

Kyrie Irving and Dikembe Mutombo — The Cleveland Cavaliers’ All-Star guard Kyrie Irving also went into the field for UNICEF, traveling to South Africa with U.S. Fund President Caryl M. Stern and NBA legend and U.S. Fund National Board member Dikembe Mutombo. Irving visited schools in support of UNICEF’s Schools for Africa program and showed off both his hoop and dancing skills.

Kyrie Irving and Dikembe Mutombo visit a school in South Africa during their field visit in August.

Irving and Mutombo at a school in South Africa during their visit in August. ©U.S. Fund for UNICEF/Karin Schermbrucker

Skylar Diggins, MLB and Robinson Cano — The WNBA’s Skylar Diggins and Major League Baseball (MLB) star Robinson Cano joined UNICEF’s There for the Philippines campaign, which is working to support UNICEF’s humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. MLB also made a significant donation to UNICEF’s relief efforts there.

FC Barcelona star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lionel Messi, in Bangkok, Thailand, stands with children who have intellectual disabilities. © UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0497/N

FC Barcelona star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lionel Messi, in Bangkok, shows his support for children with disabilities. © UNICEF/NYHQ2013-0497/N

Lionel Messi and David Beckham — The beautiful game was represented by two of soccer’s all-time greats. FC Barcelona forward and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lionel Messi supported UNICEF’s Equal Dreams, Equal Lives campaign for children with disabilities. Soccer legend and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham also put his star power to use for children’s causes, calling for an end to hunger among children and joining fundraising efforts after Typhoon Haiyan.

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