Dallas Mavericks

Devin Harris receives honor for helping feed the less fortunate

Special to the Star-Telegram

FRISCO – Unbeknownst to a lot of people, Devin Harris has fed a lot of people in the Fort Worth/Dallas area during his 12-year NBA career.

That’s why the Dallas Mavericks’ guard was honored Monday night at the 8th Annual Feed Just One Gala at the Westin Stonebriar Hotel. But if Harris had his druthers, he would rather just be a quiet contributor without the fanfare of the bright lights and media attention.

"Honestly, I don’t do it for the recognition,’’ Harris said. "I just do it because it feels good to me and it’s something I enjoy doing.

"But I’m humbled, it’s a fun event, which is more why I come here.’’

Cheryl Jackson, the co-founder of Minnie’s Food Pantry and the engine behind Monday’s star-studded event, was beside herself after watching so many movers and shakers of the sports and entertainment world attend the gala. She’s especially appreciative to Harris.

"Devin Harris has provided over 30,000 meals for people in our community,’’ Jackson said. "He’s very soft-spoken, but his giving speaks loud.

"He joined us when we said nobody should be hungry, and he said, ‘I absolutely agree, and let me put my money where my mouth is.’ ‘’

Harris first met Jackson about a year ago in Houston, and she persuaded him to attend last year’s event as a guest. The event raises awareness and helps relieve hunger in areas communities.

"I gave a tremendous donation last year and I had a great time doing it, and I’m just back here doing the same thing this year,’’ Harris said. "I’m a big fan of giving back, especially feeding families who are less fortunate than myself.

That’s the reason why I give turkeys during Thanksgiving and give toys. We all try to do our part, and I just try to do my part.’’

Besides Harris, some of his teammates who showed up include Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Quincy Acy, J. J. Barea, Dwight Powell, Salah Mejri and Nicholas Brussino.

"It’s great to give back,’’ Williams said. "There are a lot of events we do through the year that give back, and each one is unique and different, but they’re all great causes and they’re all about bringing people together and raising awareness and raising money.’’

Williams said it’s very important for athletes to give back to the communities where they earn their money.

"This is a community that supports us and a community that’s filling up the arena every year and cheering us on. I know I feel an obligation to give back to that community that’s doing so much for us night-in and night-out.’’

So does Powell.

"This is a community that supports us, this is a community that gives us an opportunity to do the things that we want to do on a daily basis, to play the game that we love,’’ Powell said. "Without them, there really is no NBA.

"It’s important to kind of reciprocate that love and come out for events like this and reach out to the community and try to bring positive change. It seems like everybody is here for the right reason and everyone’s kind of invested in this cause to try and come as close as we can to end hunger in this country.’’

Coach Rick Carlisle also was in attendance and presented the award to Harris.

"This is big-time community stuff,’’ Carlisle said. "Devin’s been responsible for feeding over 30,000 meals for North Texas families, and that’s why he’s getting the award tonight, along with a lot of other things he does in Dallas.

"His roots to Dallas go way back to 2004 when he was drafted. He’s been the epitome of loyalty for the Metroplex, and he’s been a phenomenal contributor both on the court in the community and we’re very proud of him.’’

Even Mavs owner Mark Cuban surprised some when he showed up and walked the red carpet Monday night.

"He means the world to me,’’ Jackson said of Cuban. "Growing up with five girls and two boys -- all Laker fans -- and I’m the only Mavericks fan in the house, this right here just validates it.

"This girl loves the Mavericks, and it’s like Mark Cuban has come to our rescue.’’

Cuban has done events in the past with Jackson, so this one was a no-brainer.

"If a family can’t eat and if a child can’t eat, they’re going to be able to do well in school, and that creates a list of problems,’’ Cuban said. "My props to Devin for making this a focus of his, and to Cheryl.’’

Minnie’s Food Pantry is a Plano-based non-profit organization that provides healthy free meals and resources.

"We’ve provided over four million meals to people in our community,’’ Jackson said. "Over 300,000 people have been served by Minnie’s Food Pantry, and this is our eighth year.

"It’s just amazing to me to see the community support.’’

That community supports is why Harris wanted to get involved in this event, although he wanted to fly under the radar.

"I don’t like being here being recognized,’’ Harris said. "I don’t like being recognized.

"But sometimes you just have to put a face with a name, and I’m just glad to be here.’’