CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - Hornets owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan shed a tear Thursday as he helped celebrate the opening of a medical clinic in Charlotte that his $7 million donation made possible.
“It’s not the financials, but from the heart,” Jordan told the crowd gathered for the grand opening on Freedom Drive, explaining the reason behind his gift to Novant Health.
“I stand here before you as a proud parent, son, obviously a member of this community,” Jordan said. “My mother, my brothers, my daughter, my grandson, we all represent the name Michael Jordan.
“You see my name, but yet you see a lot of people behind me and the commitment, especially from my mom, about caring for other people and being a part of a community that matters.”
The Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic opened just over three weeks ago, and its family doctors, social workers, behavioral health specialists and other staff have already cared more than 300 people.
“It’s meant the world to me,” nearby resident Sharelle Blake, a 54-year-old former Habitat for Humanity worker, told The Charlotte Observer after the ceremonial ribbon cutting outside the clinic. “When you have no health care, it’s a horrible situation.”
Jordan’s donation also is funding a medical clinic in a second economically-disadvantaged area of Charlotte, in the Brightwalk development on Statesville Avenue, located in north Charlotte.
The donation is in one of Jordan’s largest ever, the Observer reported when it was announced in 2017. Its aim is to improve low-income Charlotte residents’ access to health care.
Jordan spokeswoman Estee Portnoy previously told the Observer that Jordan had been working with Winston-Salem-based Novant – for years the Hornets’ official health care provider – to steer financial donations toward work that would help poor populations in Charlotte.
She said Jordan cited a 2014 study by Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley that poor children in Charlotte have the worst odds of those in any large U.S. city to lift themselves from poverty. The report led to the creation of a Charlotte-Mecklenburg task force to address the city’s economic-mobility challenges.