Hornets owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan shed a tear on Thursday, Oct. 17, as he helped celebrate the opening of a medical clinic, the latest local philanthropic gift from him as he partnered with Novant Health, in Charlotte, North Carolina, that his $7 million donation made possible, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Jordan said he saw his giving as a way to make a difference in the community he and his family call home.
“I’ve gone off and made my life in Illinois and other places. But I know where it all begins. And I don’t need my mother to constantly remind me about that. I can only give in gratitude for what I can never repay,” Jordan said at the ceremonial ribbon-cutting.
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.
“It’s not the financials, but from the heart,” Jordan told the crowd gathered for the grand opening, 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. 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,” Jordan continued.
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 for more than 300 people.
A second facility Jordan’s donation also is funding is expected to open in north Charlotte. Both facilities, are expected to serve at least 35,000 children and adults over the next five years, provides primary health care services as well as access to social workers, behavioral health experts, oral health practitioners, and physical therapy.
“This is just the start of a battle, of being able to touch as many as we can, and grow this project,” Jordan said.
One woman, Sharelle Blake, a 54-year-old former Habitat for Humanity worker, said the clinic serves multiple neighborhoods where people have no insurance or limited access to health care services.
“It’s meant the world to me. When you have no health care, it’s a horrible situation,” Blake told The Charlotte Observer.
The donation is 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.
Portnoy 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, WBTV reported.