Sunday, October 14, 2007
Doug and Jackie Christie: No Ordinary Love and Extraordinary Giving
Doug and Jackie Christie: No Ordinary Love and Extraordinary Giving
A few months ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview former NBA superstar Doug Christie and his wife Jackie, who are extremely down–to-earth loving people. But before I did, I asked some basketball fans about the couple for research and I got some interesting opinions, but the one that stood out the most was, “they were talked about a lot because of their relationship.” Relationship? You’re kidding me, right? Basketball fans cared about their relationship? Okay, so I read stories about his sign to her when he was in the NBA, heard about other stuff too, but you want to know something…I really don’t care. I know some couples who would ache to have that kind of love in their lives.
Instead, we talked only briefly about their relationship, but we focused more on their love of helping others, especially children through their Infinite Love Foundation. Earlier this year, the Infinite Love Foundation presented 21 new bicycles to children being honored for their achievements in the community. The Seattle Rotary Boys and Girls Club "Lady Style" AAU basketball team also received much needed jerseys, shorts and basketball shoes from the Infinite Love Foundation. Also, the Infinite Love Foundation has consistently sponsored the Seattle Millionair Club, which provides food and hygiene supplies to those in the community; as well as the Children's Hospital of Seattle.
We talked about their commitment to giving back as often as they could and how this commitment came from the fact that both of them had a trying past. I was raised by a single mother and not only did I have respect for Doug, who didn’t end up a statistic that people like to throw in the faces of single mothers (your kid will be drug addict, dropout, etc.) but both Jackie and Doug were successful enough to look back on their past and help others.
A little background on Doug (according to his website, www.dougchristie.com): Doug was born in Seattle, Washington and introduced to hard work at an early age when he became a latchkey kid while his parents both worked long hours. Growing up in the Northwest, Doug enjoyed his childhood and his number one passion, soccer. As an athletic child, it wasn't long after his introduction to organized basketball that he knew this game would be his life. Doug attended Rainer Beach High School in Seattle, went on to Pepperdine and then to the NBA where he played for 14 years. Jackie was also born in Seattle, has been a model and has opened a clothing boutique in Seattle.
Both achieved their dreams through the help of their single parents, who turned to local organizations for aid. Today, Doug is retired from the NBA and he and Jackie focus on their charity work and various business ventures including the launch of their online radio show, Infinite Love Talk Radio beginning November 1, 2007. Their weekly talk show will feature celebrity guests, sports icons and surprise interviews. The Christies will spread their knowledge of marriage, fashion, love, lifestyle and sports with listeners as well as give advice on how to have a successful marriage when all odds are against you. The weekly online radio show will air on Saturdays at 5pm (PST) on www.blogtalkradio.com/christiedandj.
Doug and Jackie are very excited to be talking about helping others and one of the charities they have helped along the way was the Millionair’s Club.
Jackie: My mom was a single mom and I had eight brothers and sisters. She reached out to the Millionair’s Club to help us and helped my brothers get jobs when they were old enough and helped us to get food. They were just terrific for our family and when I got into a position when I grew up that I could give back, they were the organization that stood out for us. Doug also benefited from the Millionair’s Club because his mother was a young mother, she was 15 when she had him and didn’t have the benefit of help from his father either.
(According to their website, since 1921, The Millionair Club charity – located in Seattle, Washington -- has been changing lives through jobs. Businesses, homeowners and individuals hire hard-working, reliable Club clients for day labor or permanent jobs and give unemployed and homeless people a chance to escape from poverty and become self-reliant members of the community. Visit www.millionairclub.org for more information.)
My mom was widowed when I was young so I was like you and Doug, raised by a single mom, but as a kid, you don’t remember who helped you out. Did your mom incorporate ‘giving back’ into your brain over the years?
Jackie: My mom was really happy when I told her what I was going to do. I do remember them helping my brothers and giving them jobs, so I knew I wanted to help them when I got into a position where I could.
Some kids are embarrassed when their family needs help to get by. What advice would you give to them?
Jackie: I would remind them it’s only a temporary situation and when they grow up they’ll be happy to know that someone was there to help them too and now they can give back. That’s what this world is supposed to be based on – helping each other. Just be thankful you’re in a system with an organization that can help you. Just to be able to go to an organization like this is so special; I’ll spend the rest of my days giving out to organizations that can help others. I have a 13-year-old daughter who watches TV and models, but her main character is about giving. We are instilling traditions about giving back with all of our children. We tell them that just because you’re more fortunate don’t mean you don’t give back. We tell our kids to donate their toys or, at Christmastime, they get a certain amount of gifts and they have to pick out gifts for other kids. They really enjoy that. We take them with us to events. If you start your kids young, they’ll grow up with a mindset about giving and grow up to help the community.
NBA players make a lot of money. How did you and Doug get past the comments from others that the two of you were just showing off your money?
Jackie: First, we know in our hearts what is right. There has been a lot of stuff written about our relationship and our love for each other. He is really dedicated to his family and that was hard for others to swallow. People can say whatever they want, we will continue to help and that’s all that matters, so it really doesn’t bother us, what’s really important to us is that people understand we don’t do what we do for publicity. This is a gift from our hearts and it’s something we want to do. It doesn’t matter what they think. If someone needs our help, we help them.
Doug, take me back to your childhood.
Doug: It meant a lot growing up in Seattle. We weren’t always able to have what we needed. I was a latchkey kid, I came home and did schoolwork, but mostly hung out and played. At holiday time, mom would get help from schools or wherever. She was concerned and would get from various places to make sure we got what we needed. That was part of what you did and how you grew up. Whatever mom had to do to make sure there was food on the table, she did.
Most kids in that position just focus on getting out. How did you turn around and give back?
Doug: I was never in that mindset (of just getting out). I used to tell my mom, “I’m going to live with you forever.” Then when I was making my own money and I knew what it was like to be in those situations. I had a knowledge of myself and I started learning more about who I am and I see the kids now who don’t understand what’s going on and we want to help them to turn the light on, change everything including their outlook on things. We want to tell them to go to school, get an education and then anything is possible. I truly believe that anyone can.
When you make it big in the NBA there are perks and glamour and many players can blow their money quickly on stuff.
Doug: I think that when you get that money and you come from not having a lot or not having anything, there’s no rulebook telling you how to spend that. You just don’t know. The real basis though is family. I think about what I want my children to do and I can’t be hypocritical – I have to show them the way I think they should do things, including giving back.
When I was playing for the Lakers and I would leave the forum, there would always be this guy by the freeway and I would always give him a bill and whatever he did with that he did. I look at my children’s faces and I want them to be good people.
The Infinite Love Foundation – what does that mean to you and Jackie?
Doug: Everything we do from helping people to loving each other to whatever we pour into our children – love is just spreading in every direction. Even in our business dealings, we try to do it with the love that people would want to be treated with.
You’ve taken hits with the media. How do you stay focused without saying “I can’t take this anymore?” Many people have obstacles when they start a foundation, so how did you overcome this one?
Doug: The media is a big one. People are going to have their opinions and say mean and kind things – we don’t pay attention to the mean things. There are obstacles in getting to be an NBA player including being told that you’re not good enough to make it. This is just another thing and maybe being an athlete has taught me how to have a tough skin in a lot of areas, and what people say about me is just one of them.
What is your primary goal?
Doug: Hopefully we help someone and they can keep it going and when they give back it just keeps going and it gives hope.
Thanks Doug and Jackie!
* The Children Affected by AIDS Foundation will hold its Dream Halloween® fundraiser at Roseland Ballroom from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 21, 2007. This year Chris Meloni, star of “Law & Order: SVU,” and his wife Sherman Meloni will receive the Foundation’s Ribbon of Dreams® Award. Each October, the Foundation opens its doors to hundreds of families to attend Dream Halloween® in-costume and trick-or-treat for toys, meet their favorite cartoon characters, play games, create arts and crafts, and enjoy delicious food.
* Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood Stars Rallied at United Nations – On September 25, actors united for a world without hunger, as part of HungerFREE, a global campaign sponsored by Action Aid International. Celebrity speakers included Tim Meadows (Hollywood); Shabana Azmi (Bollywood - India); Hilda Dokubo (Nollywood - Nigeria) Why are they Protesting? According to Action Aid Int’l, seven years ago governments at the UN committed to halving hunger by 2015. At that time, there were 800 million hungry people across the globe. Today, 854 million are hungry. HungerFREE is a global campaign that will provoke governments to deliver on their commitment to halve world hunger by 2015.
* Padres Contra El Cáncer (Parents Against Cancer) will celebrate its annual fund–raising gala, El Sueno De Esperanza; An Evening for Celebration & Hope on Thursday, October 18, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., at The Lot in Los Angeles, California. The organization will pay tribute to the courage and heroism demonstrated each and every day by its extraordinary children and families. ‘EL SUEÑO DE ESPERANZA’ will also recognize PADRES’ distinguished friends and colleagues for their humanitarian contributions in support of the cancer community. Honorees this year include Alex Wallau (Special Senior Advisor, The Walt Disney Company), a cancer advocate who will receive the CHAMPION OF HOPE Award; Beto Cuevas (Grammy Award–Winning Musical Recording Artist), who will receive the RUBY OLIVA CEDILLO TRIBUTE Award; and Cingular Wireless/The New AT&T whose direct financial contributions in support of PADRES and its life–saving mission will be acknowledged with the ‘EL SUEÑO DE ESPERANZA’ Award.Eva Longoria is the PADRES National Spokesperson; Gala Chair and George Lopez serves as Master of Ceremonies.
Founded in 1985, PADRES brings together children, families, healthcare professionals and community leaders to promote a comprehensive understanding of childhood cancer and other blood disorders, as well as effective methods for their treatment. PADRES’ unique and inclusive program model is premised upon the delivery of a health and education curriculum designed to be culturally–relevant, family–centered and community–based. While primarily oriented to the Latino community, PADRES’ programs, activities and services serve childhood cancer patients and their families from all races, nationalities and ethnic origins. NO FAMILY IS TURNED AWAY. For more information, please visit www.iamhope.org.
* The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation will hold their annual New York gala, "A Magical Evening," on Monday, November 12, 2007 at the New York Marriott Marquis. Meryl Streep, and Lee and Bob Woodruff are being honored at this event. The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. More information on this organization and event as we get closer.