Zo's Summer Groove gets some added punch: D-Wade Print
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Tuesday, 08 July 2008 07:46
NBA Headline News

 MIAMI (AP) - Alonzo Mourning knows the statistics by heart, ticking them off one after another.
The Miami Heat center isn't talking about points, rebounds, blocked shots, or anything else that has to do with basketball. No, Mourning's real passion is improving the lives for children in South Florida, something his annual Zo's Summer Groove series of events has sought to do since its inception more than a decade ago.
``Our schools rank 47th or 48th out of 50 states in this country. We've got 54 percent of the kids in Miami-Dade County not graduating from high school,'' Mourning said. ``Those are very disturbing statistics to me.''
He wants to change those numbers.
And he's invited Heat teammate Dwyane Wade to help that quest.
This year's ZSG, the 12th annual which opens Wednesday, will have Wade serving as the event's first co-host along with Mourning, who has raised more than $6 million so far over the years for children's charitable and educational causes, such as youth centers and after-school programs.
The thinking is simple: Sometime in the not-too-distant future, Mourning will retire from the NBA, begin taking a less-active role in the groove, and turning attention toward other charitable areas. But he wants the event to continue and grow, and Wade is Mourning's hand-picked successor to spearhead one of South Florida's most popular annual happenings.
Both men are NBA millionaires, yet both grew up with hardly anything - and never forgot those humble roots, either.
``Without the opportunities that others provided for me as a child and for Dwyane as a child, we wouldn't be in the position we're in today,'' Mourning said. ``We believe every child has the ability. They just don't have the resources and it's up to us as adults, responsible adults, to provide the resources for these kids to grow and be productive citizens in our society.''
It won't be just Mourning and Wade luring fans out this week, either: They've got an All-Star lineup to help their cause.
Chris Tucker will headline the comedy show. Queen Latifah will perform at the charity gala dinner. Michael Strahan will help host the golf tournament. And the highlight of every ZSG week is the All-Star basketball game, which this year has commitments from LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carlos Boozer, Kevin Durant, Caron Butler, Al Harrington, Sam Cassell, James Posey, Kenyon Martin and Heat forward Udonis Haslem, among many others.
Plus, both Mourning and Wade - whose seasons ended early last year because of injuries - are scheduled to play.
``It's been a long time since I was in front of my fans, so I can't wait,'' Wade said.
Wade, who has his own foundation, began asking Mourning to be part of ZSG a couple years ago, and each offer was essentially declined. Mourning would say, ``You're not ready,'' and Wade would try again a few months later.
But Wade isn't new to the charity ropes anymore; he's about to enter his sixth NBA season. So after last year's ZSG, Wade insisted it was time for him to get a bigger role, and Mourning finally agreed.
``It's something that he's very passionate about, enhancing the lives of children and families here in our community,'' Mourning said. ``I felt like our partnership would strengthen our ability to do more for people here in the community. So I'm excited about it and he's just as excited as well.''
Even in a tough economy, Mourning said corporate sponsorship for the event remains strong.
``It's very impressive that it has continued to grow,'' Wade said. ``There's a lot of pressure on me: Now I've got to help it get better and better.''
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On the Web:
Zo's Summer Groove: http://www.zsg.com
 

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