OKLAHOMA CITY (CNN) — Rudy Gobert, the first NBA player to be diagnosed with coronavirus, is donating $500,000 to assist people affected by the virus and related closures.
The Utah Jazz all-star center is giving $200,000 to part-time employees of the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City whose jobs were affected by the NBA’s decision to suspend its season.
Gobert is donating $100,000 each to support coronavirus-related social services in Utah and Oklahoma City and €100,000 (about $111,000) to his home country France, the Utah Jazz announced on Saturday.
“I am humbled by the tireless efforts and care of people around the globe for those affected by COVID-19, especially my own communities of Utah and France, in addition to my appreciation for the state of Oklahoma and my care there, and of course, my Utah Jazz family,” Gobert said in a statement.
The suspension of the NBA season due to coronavirus isn’t just affecting players and fans, it’s having a sizeable impact on the pay of thousands of hourly employees at arenas across the United States.
Vivint Smart Home Arena employs more than 800 part-time workers who handle food service, security, guest services and more. Besides basketball games, the arena hosts concerts and other public events. Four concerts have been postponed and the Jazz had 10 home games left before the season was suspended.
Gobert was recently criticized for a prank he pulled on members of the media that could have put them at risk of contracting the illness.
As Gobert was leaving a media event on March 9, before he was diagnosed with coronavirus, he touched every microphone and recorder in front of him in jest.
After his diagnosis, Gobert issued a public apology on Instagram.
“I have gone through so many emotions since learning of my diagnosis…mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment,” wrote Gobert.
“The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse.”
Gobert is one of several basketball stars to donate money. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson and Blake Griffin are among many other players to donate to arena employees affected by the suspension.