During his inaugural season with the Houston Rockets, point guard Chris Paul helped the team win a franchise-record 54 games en route to advancing to the Western Conference finals. Although Houston fell short in its quest for a third championship, the Rockets captured their sixth division title and posted the best record in the NBA for the first time in team history. Now, partway through his second season, 33-year-old Paul is once again launching the Rockets toward another shot at a world title for Clutch City.
Before coming to Houston, Paul played for the New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers, and his career milestones include a Rookie of the Year Award, an All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award and two Olympic gold medals. It’s perhaps his accomplishments off the court, however, that brings him even more pride. In addition to being a great husband and father of two, he’s also making major plays in philanthropy. Last November, his Chris Paul Family Foundation’s Celebrity Server Dinner held a fundraiser at Mastro’s Steakhouse (the fourth event of its kind). Two Houston-based charities, the Urban Enrichment Institute and The Way Home – Coalition for the Homeless both received $25,000 donations.
“My parents raised me and my brother, CJ, to work in the community, and we did a lot of volunteer work at our church,” says Paul, who grew up in North Carolina. He and his wife, Jada Crawley, are instilling those same values in their daughter, Camryn, and son, Chris Jr., and using their platform to pass—or perhaps dribble—opportunities forward in their community. Athletic and educational programs and scholarships, along with other initiatives, are at the core of their youth-focused philanthropy, and naturally, Paul sees sports as one of society’s great equalizers. “I find that participating in sports teaches you teamwork, patience, focus, goal setting, confidence and other life skills,” he says.
Founded back in 2005, the Chris Paul Family Foundation levels the playing field with financial and technology gifts, but it also partners with other nonprofits like the Boys and Girls Club, Shoes That Fit, Vision to Learn, the Brotherhood Crusade and Feed the Children. This past summer, the foundation gave a whopping $2.5 million gift to Wake Forest University, where Paul played ball and first met his wife. He proposed in the school’s basketball arena, so it’s especially appropriate that the school’s decided to name the new men’s locker room in his name. As a co-chair of When We All Vote, a national nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes democracy through voter registration and voter participation programs, Paul is making a difference politically; and he’s even got a business savvy side, which he exercises through his own production company, Ohh Dip, a television and film production company that creates robust stories.
The 6-foot athlete’s roster is packed—take a look at his hardcore workout schedule with teammate James Harden for even more evidence—but he knows how to step back and unwind from all his responsibilities. For fun, he plays golf, practices yoga and is even learning to play the piano.
As his team rockets into the end of a strong season, Paul already feels like a champion. His greatest title will always be dad. “Watching my kids grow up and no longer be ‘my babies’ is a challenge. One of the most rewarding things is seeing that special school program or watching my son play soccer or my daughter play tennis,” he says. “And nothing is more rewarding that getting that goodnight hug and kiss.”