The Most Charitable Athletes Today Might Surprise You

Photo by MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock (4990171e) Make-A-Wish Foundation honour John Cena, New York, America - 21 Aug 2015

We all know that athletes make the big bucks. A normal working person won’t see salaries like these in their lifetime no matter how many hours they put in.

Fortunately, there are some athletes that make the most of their huge salary by giving generously to charity. What’s more, the world’s most generous athletes aren’t always folks you might expect.

Let’s dive in!

This Former Champ Puts Her Money Where Her Mouth Is

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Ronda Rousey became an international star when she was the first female to sign with UFC.

Since her huge loss to Holly Holm, Rousey’s trash talking outside of the ring hasn’t matched her recent performances. Luckily, she means what she says when it comes to giving her money to charitable causes.

Through Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Ronda has had a hand in transforming and supporting 90,000 adults and children who suffer from mental health and substance abuse.

She also spreads her own wealth around. At her last charity auction, a pair of hand wraps raised $3 million dollars to benefit the Lighthouse Preschool.

Eli Manning’s Lasting Impact On Charity

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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is known for giving back to people. So much that he was given the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his lasting impact on charity.

As his star began to rise, so did his paycheck, and in turn, his commitment to charity. In the span of five years, he raised $3 million for the Eli Manning Children’s Clinic in Mississippi, which serves 75,000 children who need outpatient care.

Manning isn’t the only quarterback that spends his time working for children. Keep reading for more!

Russell Wilson Gives Time To The Kids

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Seattle Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson puts in some major time when it comes to charity. Wilson enjoys his charity work so much that he’s on weekly hospital visits with Seattle Children’s Hospital, and that’s not all.

He also has his own charity, Why Not You, which lends a hand to support various children’s causes.

It’s not all about athletes with squeaky clean images like Wilson’s. Keep reading for truly unexpected figures.

Neymar Hasn’t Forgotten His Roots

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The Neymar Jr Project Institute Charity event, Sao Paulo, Brazil – 07 Jul 2017

International soccer star Neymar uses charity as ammunition when it comes to racking up trophies for Barcelona. Neymar’s family has a charity in his home country of Brazil called The Instituto Projeto Neymar Jr. This foundation partners with the FC Barcelona Foundation to promote sports as a tool for socializing young children. It works with 2,400 disadvantaged children.

Neymar’s team also helped Brazil fight Ebola by bringing in clean water to the country.

Serena Williams’ Goodwill

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Serena Williams is travelling in Ghana as a Goodwill Peace Keeper

Serena Williams is famous for doing the impossible as a champion tennis player. She’s constantly taking her craft to the next level, and that includes winning the Australian Open while eight weeks pregnant. But did you know she’s also heavily involved in charity?

She’s a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and in her spare time helps build schools in Africa. As it stands, she’s involved in 12 charities. Nothing can keep this girl down!

Michael Phelps’ Swim Initiative

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Despite Michael Phelps’ image taking a hit due to his DUI arrests, the most celebrated Olympian of all time has always been charitable outside of the pool.

With major sponsors like Speedo, Omego, and Visa, Phelps makes some serious bank, but he doesn’t rest on his laurels. Instead, he launched his own foundation called the Michael Phelps Foundation. With a focus on swimming, the foundation gives children the opportunity to be proactive in the pool.

Phelps also partners with and helps with programming for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

John Cena’s Make-A-Wish History

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Make-A-Wish Foundation honour John Cena, New York, America – 21 Aug 2015

John Cena is one of the classiest guys in the WWE. He’s a world wrestling champion and title holder for many years, but also gives back to the community in a huge way. As the most requested athlete for Make-A-Wish-Foundation, he has taken his time to grant 500 wishes.

Additionally, Cena has been heavily involved in the Susan G. Komen Foundation and has raised funds for cancer research. Most recently, he donated his time for a meet and greet backstage at Monday Night’s Raw. Proceeds raised went to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Ndamukong Suh’s Not-So-Dirty Foundation

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Miami Dolphins defense tackle, Ndamukong Suh is as polarizing as they come. He’s known for being a “dirty” football player and has been dragged through the mud in controversy after controversy due to “inappropriate plays.” But here’s something he’s not as well known for — his charitable ways.

He started the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation in an effort to give back to Nebraska. More recently, Suh made sure a local elementary school had new backpacks with school supplies for their students.

King LeBron Gives Back In A Big Way

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Depending on who you ask, LeBron James may be one of the best basketball players of his generation, or of all time. One thing haters can’t dispute is his dedication to helping others in need. Back in 2011, the LeBron James Family Foundation raised $3 million for 59 different Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide. LeBron helped kids by wheeling out 1,000 brand new HP computers and we’re really just getting started here.

In 2015, he raised $41 million so he could send over a thousand children to school.

Currently, James is involved with the year-round programs that his foundation supports, specifically aimed at the Akron, Ohio community and its youth.

The Most Charitable Athlete

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Cristiano Ronaldo may get headlines for being a heartthrob or for his hot-headed behavior on the soccer field, but this footballer does a ton for charity. The Real Madrid star was named the most charitable athlete in 2015 when he donated $53,000 for the operation of a 10-month old baby. He also donated $10,500 to a research center for cancer and paid a nine-year-old cancer patient’s medical bills. Cancer is close to his heart because his mother went through her own battle.

Most recently, Ronaldo donated his $600,000 champion bonus to an NGO charity. Other charities he’s supported over the years include World Vision, Save the Children, and UNICEF.

Seahawks’ Other Generous Player

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NFL player Richard Sherman is known for his arrogance on the football field, but this Seattle Seahawks cornerback has a huge heart when it comes to charity. Through his family-owned foundation, Blanket Coverage, he helps students achieve their goals and stay focused on brighter futures. The foundation has supported low-income families with school supplies and clothing for children.

Sherman isn’t just focused on one cause. Recently, he donated $2,500 to The ALS Association.

Maria Sharapova Serves Up Generosity

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Maria Sharapova is arguably one of the most famous female athletes of her generation. The professional tennis player is known for being one of 10 females to hold the career Grand Slam record, and is also killing it in the charity department, too.

Sharapova launched the Maria Sharapova Foundation while also becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program. Think that’s all? Not a chance! Sharapova donated $100,000 to Chernobyl projects.

Recently, she started a scholarship program with UNDP. This $210,000 scholarship will help students from Chernobyl-affected areas from Belarus.

Yuna Kim’s Charitable Retirement

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Yuna Kim may not be a household name, but she gives a ton to charity. The South Korean skater became the first to take home a medal in the Olympic Games for her sport. After setting multiple world records, including Four Continents Championships and the Grand Prix Final, she decided to retire, which left more time to focus on charities.

She’s been one of the leading voices who has made appeals for the children of Syria through her role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. She’s also donated hundreds of thousands in relief aid to the Philippines, Haiti, Japan, and made a $100,000 donation to Nepal.

Heather O’Reilly’s Progressive Spirit

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Professional soccer player Heather O’Reilly is known as a midfielder for Arsenal Ladies of FA WSL, and her historical FIFA Women’s World Cup lift, but did you know she gives back in a big way?

O’Reilly works steadily with the Women’s Sports Foundation which hopes to advance the lives of young women and girls through physical activity. She also lends her hand to Teammates For Kids, Right To Play, and Athlete Ally. The latter charity is a nonprofit that puts its focus to ending homophobia through sports education.

The Youngest Charitable Athlete

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The youngest athlete on the list, Mo’ne Davis, is also one of the most charitable. At 15-years-old, the former little league pitcher — who was the first girl pitcher to win the Little League Series — is just starting her life, but she’s already heavily involved in charity.

A few years ago, the athlete decided to launch her own line of sneakers. Proceeds from her sneakers went to the “Because I am a Girl” project, which helped four million girls who are struggling in undeveloped parts of the world.