It probably got a bit of attention when Ira Newble was still playing in Cleveland and circulating a letter to China about the genocide in Darfur that then teammate LeBron James refused to sign, but more is fine by me. The L.A. Times has gotten around to profiling the Lakers’ bench player (although not a regular one), his trips to the Darfur region, and his advocacy against the genocide and countries funding it. Essentially, this is one of those stories you really can’t repeat enough, so it’s good on the Times for getting this feature going.
Basically, Newble read a story about a professor working for relief for the region from his sickbed, got a quick course in the genocide, and got in touch with the group Aid Still Required, which puts forth relief efforts and recently did a series of ads with NBA players including Newble’s current teammate Kobe Bryant. Newble circulated a protest letter to China (whose money funds much of the genoicide) and got a bit of a firestorm going when James (a Nike endorser) didn’t sign it.
Newble took a trip to the region last August with actress Mia Farrow and several others:
“We spent three days in one camp in Chad and two in another. I saw kids, ages 8 to 13, drawing stick figures of women running, holding babies, getting shot in the back by soldiers. They drew pictures of helicopters dropping bombs. There was red scrawled everywhere to show blood. These were their mothers and sisters, family members and friends they watched die in front of them.”
Newble tried to remain stoic while listening to these stories. “One individual said to me, ‘I’m telling you this because I believe you are going to go back and speak about it so we can get help from the international community.’ ”
Upon his return, Newble hugged his own two kids, put a picture of one of the little girls he had met on his computer screen and cellphone and began a campaign to spread the word among fellow NBA players.
It may be old news to some of you, it may be hard to take, it may be kind of hokey to the cynics among you — but Newble’s expansion of the boundaries is something we all ought to strive for.
Lakers’ Newble opens NBA eyes to Darfur [L.A. Times]