DALLAS – Tim Hardaway Jr. has accomplished countless goals during his basketball career — except for one lifelong dream.

A young Timmy often imagined life as an NBA player when he was little. He understood what an honor and privilege it was to compete at the highest level. So if he ever made it to the NBA, Hardaway had a dream to someday bless families with a little extra during the holiday season.

He especially wanted to make life easier for hard-working mothers and children who might come from less fortunate circumstances.

Tuesday night in Dallas, Hardaway’s dream became a reality when he walked into a private party room at Dave & Buster’s and surprised two families. The special guests came from the Dallas Leadership Foundation, and they were thrilled to get a catered dinner and play games. But that was just the start.

Tim gifted everyone with loads of presents and goodies including winter gear like coats, socks and other Mavs’ swag. Then Hardaway delivered a touching message that had the entire room in tears.

“I’ve always wanted to do this, ever since I made it to the NBA,” Hardaway shared with the families. “My heart is racing right now. It’s just great this time of the year to give back to those that work hard throughout the entire year and take care of their loved ones. Here’s a gift from myself to you all. I want to give each family a check.”

The checks were made for $5,000 to each family, lifting a tremendous financial burden for Shaunice Clay. She stood speechless next to her seven-year-old son, Caiden, as Hardaway handed them giant checks.

“I never expected this, and I’m just in shock,” said Clay, who works 12-hour shifts at two different hospitals. “I don’t ever expect gifts or receive gifts. And to come from a stranger, it’s just a shock. It’s a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. $5,000 might not be much for some people, but to me, it’s a big, big difference when it comes to having a home and transportation. It’s huge for me.”

Clay said life as a single mother is not easy, and she has to work extra to make ends meet. This takes away time from her son, but she is overjoyed to know the next few months are taken care of.

And — just like Hardaway — she has a new dream for her and Caiden.

“I’ve always dreamed of having a house and a yard,” Clay said. “We don’t have that living in an apartment and I want my son to have the chance to run and play. These funds give me new hope to hopefully get a home someday.”

‘This gift from Tim Hardaway Jr. is beyond our expectations’

The Bowens family is the other local family that Hardaway blessed. There are four children in the family and Dallas Leadership Foundation has helped the kids develop their leadership skills through camps and other events. Still, they said times have been hard and the gifts touched every member of the family.

After dinner, Tim hit the game floor with all the kids and families. For an hour, they laughed and played and just embraced the small joys of life. There will be plenty of time to talk basketball. For now, they found common love playing arcade and video games.

Hardaway comes from different financial backgrounds than the families, but he knows what it’s like to have parents who work hard, dream big for their children and lead by example. Tim witnessed it firsthand from his mother and during his father’s NBA career.

“When I grew up, I’d see my father (Tim Sr.) in the same situation I’m in now. When we were growing up in Miami, he’d do everything in his power to make the community a better place. I just wanted to come out here and turn my childhood dreams into a reality and give back to the Dallas Mavs’ faithful.”

Wil McCall is the president and CEO of Dallas Leadership Foundation. He was thrilled to join in the festivities on Tuesday because he said these two families are especially deserving.

Dallas Leadership Foundation was founded in 1995 to glorify Christ by addressing the root issue facing challenged communities—the lack of leadership. The organization focuses on systemic development that’s built on a foundation of genuine love and respect for people. Today they serve as a bedrock for collaborative community transformation.

“What stuck out to me about Tim is his generosity,” McCall said. “He was available. We see Tim Hardaway Jr. on television and he’s a huge star and comes from a star family. But tonight he was all about hanging out with our kids and families. And he wanted to give. I saw his true desire to give to the families and that’s what moved me.”

McCall said Hardaway has a special heart and that was on full display for everyone.

“The gift was so thoughtful. These two families are wonderful, but they’re in need,” McCall explained.  “So this is going to be extremely help. What amazed me about Tim is he’s not in need of the spotlight. He didn’t want to be front and center. He just wanted to give and he really connected with the kids.”

Hardaway has been incredibly philanthropic this holiday season. After Monday’s victory against Charlotte, the guard stayed to meet with dozens of children from a local organization after the game. He dished out 250 meals for families in need at Buckner International at Thanksgiving.

Then tonight, he was back in the community despite a heavy game and travel schedule through December. And he’s not done yet. He’ll join his teammates on Thursday to bring holiday cheer to 50 children facing homelessness from a local organization. Hardaway was also nominated by the Mavericks for the December NBA Cares Community Assist Award.

McCall said Hardaway has gained some new fans who adore him. The same kids and families he blessed tonight will also be in attendance for Wednesday’s game when the Mavericks face the LA Lakers.

They are looking forward to cheering on No. 11, a man they said brought them many smiles and great joy this holiday season.

“This gift from Tim Hardaway Jr. is beyond our expectations,” McCall shared at the end of the night. “We knew he’d do something good, but never imagined he’d do something this over the top. I get choked up, and I’ve done this for a lot of years. But I haven’t seen a player on the team do something like this and for two deserving families. It just deeply touches my heart.”


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