NBA Members, Past and Present, Partner to Raise Autism Awareness

Representatives from the NBA, Autism Speaks, and the Gillen Brewer School gathered together on Monday at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art to support Tip-off for a Cure, raising awareness for autism as well as funds for research. Autism Speaks ambassadors Deron Williams and his wife Amy were honored at the evening’s event, along with members of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks ownership and Matt Greenfield of Rethink Education.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, along with former players John Starks, Nate “Tiny” Archibald, Darryl Dawkins and others came out in support of Williams as well as the work being done with regards to research of autism and support of those effected by the condition.

“Kids with special needs… there’s a special place in my heart for them,” said Dawkins, who referenced his adopted daughter Tabitha, currently living with Down Syndrome. “I think it’s just a great thing for guys to be involved and be thankful that we’re as blessed as we are, so I’m going to always come when they call me,” he said.

“I attended a church,” said Dawkins, “where the pastor’s son was autistic and he knew the pastor’s whole sermon. He knew the songs and the whole thing – you’ve gotta raise awareness because people may think that [individuals with autism] aren’t on the ball, but they’re more on the ball than we are.”

Williams, who’s adopted son DJ is autistic, has very publicly advocated for autism awareness since the diagnosis of DJ in 2011. Williams and his Point of Hope Foundation hold annual events benefitting the cause, and his presence as a face for Autism Speaks, the NBA, and families with autistic children is significant throughout each year.

“It’s something I deal with every day,” said Williams. “I know the ups, the downs, the struggles, and I can relate to people whose children have autism and I know a lot about it.”

Starks, who was on hand to support the NBA’s stance in raising awareness for autism, explained that he considers it a responsibility of himself and others to get involved in causes such as this.

“I think it’s everybody’s obligation – not just athletes, but everyone in general,” said Starks. “We’re put on this earth to help other people and whenever we can do that we should do it.”