For some kids from the hood, the dream is to one day play professional sports (mainly basketball or football) so they can get out of the hood and make a better life for themselves and for their families.
Three-time NBA Champion Udonis Haslem was one such kid growing up in a tough Miami neighborhood engulfed in crime and drugs. Yet, Haslem was one of the lucky ones to make it out.
But he came back. He came back to make things better…to make a difference in his community… to be a role model and build up his community.
A husband, a father and a community activist, Haslem has been selected as one of The Miami Times Dreamers for 2020 for being a difference maker in the community. The Miami Heat power forward says via his social media account, “I’m just a hometown kid living the dream!!”
Born and raised in Miami neighborhood, Liberty City, he is not one to forget from whence he came. He went to Miami Senior High School, played basketball for the University of Florida and, outside of a stint in France, (after going undrafted), he’s always played close to home.
So, it is easy to see why it is here that he wants to make a difference.
They say home is where the heart is and Haslem is showing his love for his hometown by opening up businesses and creating jobs.
The dreamer is now making dreams come true.
A 17-year NBA veteran, Haslem is also a veteran in the restaurant industry, having been in the restaurant business for over 10 years. He’s opened up five Subway franchises, two Auntie Anne’s Pretzels franchises and a restaurant chain called 800 Degrees Wood Kitchen in Aventura with a new location coming soon to Miami. He has partnered with food and beverage company JFC Miami on franchise ventures such as Starbucks and Einstein Bros. Bagels.
The Udonis Haslem Children’s Foundation’s mission is “to promote youth development and self-confidence through programs and services designed to enable them to reach their full potential and educational potential.” He is working with the unemployed as well as young adults from low-income families.
Through his real estate company Haslem Housing Venture LLC, he has thrown his hat into the affordable housing ring to bring low-income housing to the Miami-Dade area.
“Never in a million years did they see this coming from an un-drafted fat kid. But like I say, never underestimate the heart of a champion,” he says via his Instagram account.
“I’ve never tried to be something or someone I’m not. I’ve never wavered from how I was raised and the things that have been instilled in me – Love, Loyalty and Hard work. Just a kid from Miami living his dream and doing it his way.”