DALLAS – When Dallas Mavericks veteran sharpshooter Wesley Matthews signed his contract with the organization four years ago, he sat down and made a list of goals. At the very top he penciled in his most important ambition: improve the Dallas-Fort Worth community.

Make no doubt about it, Matthews has accomplished this feat many times and remains one of the most charitable athletes in North Texas and in the entire NBA. He is a former recipient of the prestigious NBA Cares Community Assist Award (Feb. 2012), and this past summer alone he built bicycles for less-fortunate children, created the Wesley Matthews Learning Lab at Girls Inc., and teamed up with the Mavs Foundation to dedicate a brand-new basketball court at BridgeBuilders in south Dallas, an urban missionary organization that addresses poverty in low-income areas. He also volunteered his time and worked with future ballers at Mavs Hoops Camp.

And that was just before the season started.

In the last two months, Matthews started his 10th NBA season, helped raise a toddler daughter and spent countless hours in the community through various service projects and events. Monday he will be on hand to once again host the Mavs Winter Warm-up Drive, presented by Raising Cane’s, and then a few days later he’ll join his teammates and local children at the Mavs annual “Dinner with Santa” event. Matthews is also hosting a 3-for-3 Diapers Campaign all season long where he donates three boxes of diapers for every 3-pointer made.

But the way Matthews sees it, giving back to people in North Texas is a gift — and a goal — that will never end.

“Wesley is by far one of the most-giving athletes we’ve had with this organization,” Mavs senior director of community relations Katie Edwards said. “He’s such a great guy and loves to come out and work with children and help in the community. He’s very selfless and always gets the bigger picture.”

For Matthews, the bigger picture often occurs out of the spotlight, according to Director of the Mavs Basketball Academy, Ben Hunt.

“During our Spring Break Hoop Camp in March of this year, Wesley stayed back in Dallas due to injury and did not go on the West Coast with the team,” Hunt said.

“When he walked into a practice facility for rehab, he saw over 100 campers playing on the courts. Wes wanted to make sure all 100 campers had a wonderful experience at camp, so he asked for a marker and signed their jerseys. Even better? Since he didn’t get to visit with all the campers on the first day, he came back the next day to make sure no one missed out. It was the end of his season, he was hurt and could have been anywhere…but he chose to spend it with these children. Incredible.”

Kate Foley with Octagon Basketball has worked alongside Wesley for many years. She said he’s always been very genuine, heartfelt, and loves giving back to the community. He doesn’t just show up, she said; Wesley creates campaign ideas, embeds himself in the work and enjoys serving people and listening to their stories.

“One of the things that Wesley feels profoundly about is being a positive role model; not because he has too, but because he can,” Foley said. “Having an impact on the community that supports him and the Mavericks every night is important to who he is as a player and person.”

Just recently Matthews kicked off the Dallas Mavericks 2018 Season of Giving by hosting a Hoops for Troops “Commitment to Service Day” with service men and service women from the 301st Fighter Wing, a Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth.

Less than two weeks he was back in the community, standing alongside teammates J. J. Barea and Devin Harris, dishing out turkeys, groceries and car seats for needy families.

“It’s nice to step away from the basketball court and remember the bigger picture in everything and the blessings we have,” said Matthews, a 10-year veteran of the NBA.

Raised by a single mother, Pam Moore, Matthews has never shied away from his background, recalling how he grew up around a blue-collared lifestyle, one that required hard work and discipline to even afford basketball registration fees, a new bike and groceries.

His grandmother and great aunt also carried significant roles in his life and the trio helped evolve Wesley into a man passionate about faith, family and giving back to the less fortunate. This is why he injects and dedicates a significant portion of time volunteering with children and families in financially-tough circumstances, like students of the Dallas Independent School District.

“I did the research of the Dallas area and realized a lack of food for kids is a huge issue for children here, which was very surprising to me,” Matthews told Mavs.com at the Hoops for Troops event.

So huge, in fact, a local organization called Hunger Busters reports a whopping 140,000 Dallas Independent School District children go without a third meal every single day.

These numbers didn’t sit right with Matthews, so he stepped in to make an immediate change and wrote a personal check to Hunger Busters for over $30K and then joined forces with the Mavericks’ staff and troops with the 301st Naval Air Station in Fort Worth to pack over 1,000 healthy lunches for local children.

The event coincided with the NBA’s Hoops for Troops week, a collaboration with the Department of Defense that allows NBA players and teams to work side-by-side with our nation’s military to improve communities across the country.

“It’s hard to describe and put into words what it means to stand alongside the service men and service women and help the kids in the Dallas area,” Matthews said. “Eating is something we all take for granted and it’s hard to imagine that so many kids go hungry every single day.

“Nutrition is fundamental to our youth, so we wanted to do more.”

According to Hunger Busters, hungry children are twice as likely to be absent from school than their peers. And research shows that increasing nutrition of a food-insecure child improves health, educational performance and the opportunity to grow into a civic-minded adult.

Matthews said the children were always on his mind as he elevated his sandwich-artistry skills alongside the troops and his Mavericks family.

“We had so much fun,” he recalled, while hugging, fist-pumping and thanking all the troops he served alongside. “At the end of the day we’re all humanitarians who just wanted to come together and do something a lot bigger than ourselves.”

Every holiday season, the NBA Cares Season of Giving tips-off and the Mavs spread cheer throughout the DFW Metroplex through various programs like the Mavs Turkey Giveaway, Dinner with Santa, Raising Cane’s Winter Warm-up Drive and the Dinner with Santa event. At the end of this year’s NBA Cares Season of Giving, Wesley will have participated at every single event.

“It’s a priority for me to give back to the Dallas community that supports us every night, especially during the holidays,” Matthews said. “There are so many people in need and every little bit helps. So bring your coats, your blankets, your hats and we can make a difference together.”

“When I signed with Dallas, one of the big things my team and I looked at is how can we make the community better,” Matthews added. “We knew what we were going to bring on the court every single night, giving everything that I have, sacrificing my body trying to win games, leadership. What we didn’t know was how we could impact the city and the community.”

Olivia Vailes said she certainly felt the love coming from Matthews and others who were part of the Winter Warm-Up Drive last season. Especially when Matthews personally delivered blankets to her room.

“When I first came to Dallas LIFE, we couldn’t bring our own blankets in, and I was worried,” Vailes said. “But with Dallas LIFE, through people donating things to the foundation, this is very helpful.”

It’s a soul-mission for Matthews.

“We get so caught up in stats and numbers and points and all that kind of stuff,” Matthews said. “What’s important is humanity and being a good person above anything else.”

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