Throughout his NBA career, Shane Battier had a reputation as a defensive specialist, a three-point shooter and an all-around team player. He had a knack for drawing charging fouls on offensive players driving to the rim.
Now that he is retired after the Miami Heat’s NBA Finals loss this year, Battier is able to focus his tenacity and selfless mindset away from the court and onto the mission of the Battier Take Charge Foundation.
The foundation, started in 2010, gives four-year, $20,000 scholarships to exemplary students with financial hardships in Miami, Houston and Detroit.
In October, Battier and the foundation received a sports award from the Coral Gables Community Foundation. Mary Snow, the foundation’s executive director, said the Take Charge foundation stood out because of its mission to help students. In May, the Gables group delivered a $5,000 grant to Take Charge to help give a scholarship to a Coral Gables High School student.
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“He’s not only a great athlete, but he gives back in a meaningful way,” Snow said. “It means a lot to have such a high-profile athlete be involved with us.”
Battier, who played in the NBA for 11 years, grew up in Birmingham, Michigan, and was a star player for Detroit Country Day School. He was a member of the 2001 national champion Duke Blue Devils and a first-round draft pick of the Memphis Grizzlies.
The idea for the foundation came to Battier and his wife, Heidi, after the Grizzlies traded him to the Houston Rockets. She said they were thinking about starting a family and wanted to find a way to give back after spending years as a teacher.
“We had been working through different foundations giving grants,” she said. “And we said, ‘You know what, let’s just do this ourselves.’”
The foundation began by giving away four $20,000 scholarships to at-risk kids, and set a goal of helping 16 kids by the time Battier retired. They expect to reach the goal by next year and have 13 current students and three graduates from the University of Florida, the University of Texas, Emory, Northern Michigan and Ball State.
Said Heidi Battier: “95 percent of our kids are first-generation college-goers. It means a lot to be a part of that generational change.”
The foundation works with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Take Stock in Children to identify notable students, she said. So far the foundation has awarded more than $180,000 in scholarships to students across the country.
As Battier moves on from life in the NBA, the foundation plans to finalize a board of directors and he hopes to become more involved with it.
“Obviously, it will be easier to schedule things regarding the foundation in a fashion that doesn’t revolve around an NBA schedule,” Battier said. “I’m looking forward to that.”
The foundation is planning a weekend retreat at which the Battiers can spend time with the students and introduce them to professionals in various fields.
“We want to provide them with an opportunity to meet each other because they come from three different parts of the country,” Heidi Battier said. “We want to be involved with those kids and know their interests.”
One major fund-raising event the foundation plans for 2015 is the annual South Beach Battioke, featuring karaoke performances by Heat players and other celebrity guests.
The foundation hopes to make the Battioke, expected to take place in March, an even bigger spectacle than last year’s, when the champion crooner was Chris Bosh.
“Bosh has assured us that he wants to win the [championship] again,” Heidi said. “We’re hoping to get a few other celebrity names to share in the mayhem.”
Beyond finding more time for the foundation, Battier is looking forward to spending more time with his wife and kids Zeke, 6, and Eloise, 3, at home in Coral Gables.
“More nights at first-grade basketball games, fewer nights at AmericanAirlines Arena,” Battier said.