Luol Deng, 26, is a basketball player for Great Britain and the Chicago Bulls. His family came to Britain to escape war in Sudan. As well as supporting projects through his Luol Deng Foundation (www.luoldeng.org), he is an ambassador for School-Home Support (www.schoolhomesupport.org.uk), which helps children in difficult circumstances to stay in school.
How did your childhood affect your views on charity?
We didn’t have much in Sudan, so we worked together as a family and made the best of it. We were, and still are, very grateful – my parents taught me to always be appreciative – and I feel blessed to be in the position I am today. I give now because I want to, but I do sometimes feel it’s a duty to give back to people in a situation that I was in, and could be in still.
When did you make your first substantial donation?
I’m not sure. My main donations now go towards my own foundation, where the team does a great job of advising me how best to use my money for people in need in the US, Africa and UK.
Which cause do you feel most passionately about?
I feel passionate about giving back to people in general, but if I had to pick one, it would be sports and education. When I came to the UK it was tough because I couldn’t understand the language, but, through playing sports at school in London, I soon learnt to speak English, made friends and even got a sense of hope. I think sport can do so many positive things for a variety of people, especially when tied into education, so that’s the focus of the foundation. We’re currently working with the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to build 10 schools and five basketball courts in remote areas and refugee camps in Africa. For the same reason I’ve become an ambassador for School-Home Support. It’s an inspiring cause, helping the most vulnerable children. My foundation is linking with them to provide basketball lessons.
Do sports stars have a duty to charity?
I think so, and many sports stars have their own charities so it seems like the majority of them feel it is right to give back.
Do you ensure your donations are used effectively?
Yes. I believe it is important to know exactly where your donation is going and how it will benefit people. I think that if they can’t see where their money is going, people tend to veer away from giving to charity.
What percentage of income should we give to charity?
It’s about personal preference. Some people like giving and others don’t. However, I do believe that all people should help others in any way possible and this isn’t always by giving money.