J.J. Barea is the only active native Puerto Rican player in the NBA.
Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire Mark Cuban loaned the team’s private jet to point guard J.J. Barea to deliver emergency supplies to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Barea, the NBA’s only active Puerto Rican player, struck out for his native island Monday, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports. He is expected to return Tuesday night.
“Mark gave him our team plane,” team coach Rick Carlisle told ESPN. “They loaded up a bunch of stuff, supplies, etc., to take over to Puerto Rico, and they’re going to turn around and come back.”
Carlisle added that Barea’s mother and grandmother would travel to the United States with the player on his return. Barea’s father is expected to stay in Puerto Rico to assist with relief efforts.
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Hurricane Maria, the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico since 1928, killed at least 16 people and left millions without power when it battered the island last Wednesday as a Category 4 storm. Beset by food, water and fuel shortages, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló issued a statement appealing for federal help for his “essentially devastated” island. Communications infrastructure was also hit hard and Barea was reportedly unable to speak with his family in Puerto Rico until Sunday.
Along with his wife Viviana Ortiz, a Puerto Rican actress and model, Barea set up an online fundraiser for his island that has so far generated more than $140,000.
“I was really proud of J.J. and how quickly he got involved and how hard he worked to make all of this happen,” Cuban told ESPN.