In mid-January, Powell participated in a Whataburger Reading Challenge event to promote childhood literacy at a local school. He virtually read a book to second graders and opened their eyes to the adventurous world of books.
Powell said that reading is one of his favorite passions, and it keeps him balanced during a hectic basketball schedule.
“The more you read, the easier it is to read and the more fun it is to read,” the NBA veteran shared with the students.
“And then you start to read things that are more challenging and expand your mind more. You can start to investigate more things that you’re curious about. Most of all, don’t ever let anyone limit you guys.”
While he’ll always be a Canadian at heart, Powell readily admits he considers himself a transplant Texan.
Like everybody on the roster, he gets paid to play and help win games. But it is impossible to discount the impact that the 2014 second-round draft pick has had in Dallas.
Powell’s community support has been far-reaching. He has helped families deal with unexpected costs when their kids are hospitalized. He has been a constant giver at holiday time. This past year, he dished out turkeys at the annual Mavs Turkey Giveaway and then helped families shop for Christmas gifts.
And he has done so selflessly in large part because of his mother, who he lost to breast cancer in 2012. In 2018, he created the Dwight Powell Children and Family Support Fund in partnership with UT Southwestern Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center to help patients and their families cope with the hardships of cancer.
Powell also serves constantly in smaller ways like promoting math and science in schools. He is once again the face of the Mavs’ Science of Basketball program, along with Mavs legend Rolando Blackman.
The Mavs forward is featured in the student workbook with examples of using math and science to calculate free throw percentage, the arc of a shot, measuring his wingspan and even drawing his jersey.
Powell also participates in the Mavs community ticket program and donates tickets to various nonprofits throughout the season.
That generous spirit has made Powell a treasured member of the community, which he also has embraced for other reasons.
“From Day One that I got here, this has been a tough city,” Powell said. “It’s been a city that’s always supported us through thick and thin and been able to deal with adversity, so it’s no surprise to see the community step up when they saw things that they needed to speak about in terms of social justice. And we saw the community step up when COVID-19 was a big issue and communities needed help.
“I wasn’t surprised when one of the worst winter storms came through this state and power was out (last February) and people had to share homes with neighbors and share food and water with neighbors – and there was no surprise to me that this city battled through all of those.
“And, on top of all that, fans still rooted for us and were supporting us. This is an amazing city with amazing people. They’ve proved that year after year to me and it’s a blessing to call everyone here my neighbor.”
He is especially drawn to helping young people through education initiatives.
“The kids are our future. The better we can educate them, the better they’ll be prepared to carry on all of our legacies,” he said.
The community has always been important for Powell during his eight-year NBA career.
In Oct. 2020, he was named a recipient of the NBA Cares 2019-20 End of Season Community Assist Award. He became the first player in Mavericks history to take home the yearly honor since the NBA started selecting overall winners after the 2011-12 season.
A product of Earl Haig Secondary School in Toronto, Powell has played nearly 500 NBA games after being selected 45th overall in the second round of the NBA Draft.
However, some of his most significant work extends far beyond the court.
During his time in North Texas, he’s established the Dwight Powell Children and Family Support Program at Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center. He’s also served as the face of the franchise on the social justice front and been a spokesperson for numerous events. He’s also the organization’s ambassador for Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October.
During the 2021 holiday season, Powell again surprised North Texas families and paid off their layaway balances. He’s done this all seven years since joining the Dallas Mavericks.
Powell understands that his platform comes with great responsibility, and he’s always ready to lend a helping hand.
“The game of basketball has provided me a great deal, and playing in this league has always been my dream,” Powell said. “But more importantly, to be able to support families in their time of need and hopefully allow kids a chance to live their dreams themselves means so much more to me.”