Saturday, February 28, 2009

Torii Hunter Donation Keeping Compton Baseball League Alive

You've probably heard someone in the media, at one time or another, describe a certain professional athlete as "one of the good guys." Meaning that this particular player not only plays hard all the time, but he has a great personality to go along with it.

And if there was anyone who fits that description perfectly, it's Angels outfielder Torii Hunter.

I had heard nothing but good things about Hunter before he signed with the Angels prior to the 2008 season. Once I met him, I realized I had been short-changed. He was even better than advertised.

Hunter not only understands what it means to be a professional athlete and all the responsibilities that come with it, but he's just cool. Even if he didn't make millions of dollars playing baseball, you get the sense that he would still be someone you would like to hang out with.

But Hunter really earns my respect with his off-the-field perspective. He came from humble beginnings in Arkansas. His family definitely had more than its fair share of dysfunction, but instead of using that as an excuse in his own life, Hunter uses it as motivation to prevent further dysfunction in the lives of others, especially children.

Hunter's latest example of his kindness and awareness comes in the form of a $10,000 donation to a Compton baseball league.

In an area long infested with drug-related violence and gang warfare, Hunter is hoping baseball can not only be an occasional escape for neighborhood kids, but quite possibly an eventual way out.

"If you have baseball in the area and kids start against each other, maybe they'll grow up together," Hunter said. "Sports can really bring people together."

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