April 12, 2010; USA Today | Sports and celebrity charities receive plenty of criticism, but that has never applied to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. He may winter in a gated community in Tampa, where he is building a mansion of, oh, 30,875 square-feet, but in Kalamazoo, Mich., his hometown, he is lauded for his charitable endeavors.
Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation focuses on New York, Tampa, and Kalamazoo. He says that though the Yankees take him to New York in the summer and Tampa for spring training, he won’t forget his roots in Kalamazoo. His dad apparently runs the foundation, which is devoted to supporting positive role models for kids. According to locals, the shortstop doesn’t use the foundation to get attention for himself, preferring to operate without fanfare.
His major project is “Jeter’s Leaders,” which recruits 35 high school students in Kalamazoo to commit to academics, no alcohol or drugs, and social change activism. Jeter is a Hall of Fame shortstop, and should be equally proud that last year, he received both Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente award for excellence in both baseball and community service and Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year award. As one of his Kalamazoo colleagues remarked, “I’ve said this for years and it’s still true: He’s a better person than he is a ballplayer.”—Rick Cohen