Former Miami Heat all-star player Alonzo Mourning has proven that top-tier NBA stars are not all self-centered, money-hungry, bling-headed egoists.
Mourning breaks the bad-boy mold with a charitable heart and a mission to do well in the community.
Showing moxie with a courageous battle against focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a rare form of kidney disease, Mourning is devoted to helping at-risk children who because of poverty start life with few opportunities to thrive. To counter negative influences such as drugs and crime, Mourning has been raising money and creating change. He helped found the Overtown Youth Center, and for the eighth time he brings his annual fundraising blowout, Zo's Summer Groove, to the Miami Arena and Parrot Jungle Island.
Along with a sports clinic for aspiring athletes co-hosted by Nike (see "Sports/Outdoors," page 40), Zo offers an all-star comedy blowout. Headlining the Mega Comedy Jam is Comedy Central laugh guru Dave Chappelle, who will, no doubt, keep the crowd roaring with his "I'm Rick James" and other outlandish characters. Also on the bill are Mo'Nique, Michael Colyar, Earthquake, Alex Thomas, Melanie Comarcho, and several others. The comedy jam begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 16, at the American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd.). Tickets range from $32 to $42.
The laughs continue the next night at An Evening in Paradise, a dinner celebration of fabulousness honoring Bill Cosby and hosted by former NBA stars Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith. Cosby will be on hand and may even address the party with some of his witty and recently controversial observations. The party starts at 6:30 Saturday, July 17, with cocktails at Parrot Jungle Island (1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Watson Island). Tickets cost $250.
Zo keeps the vibe going when he hosts his signature All-Star Block Party, where dance contests, music, food, and family-style mayhem take center stage. DJs play while genuine barbecue and cornbread sustain hungry revelers. The street party starts at 1:00 p.m. Sunday, July 18, at the American Airlines Arena. Admission is free.
To top the whole thing off, the party moves inside the AAA, where NBA stars, both current and retired, face off in a celebrity exhibition classic. Scheduled to appear are LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Steve Francis, Gary Payton, James Crawford, James Posey, Shareef Abdul-Raheem, and others. The game begins at 6:30 p.m. at AAA. Tickets range from $8 to $100.
All of the proceeds go to the Alonzo Mourning Foundation. So don't be shy with your donations. Remember that each night ends with killer afterparties at some of the coolest South Beach nightclubs including State, FifteenOOne Barton G, and Opium. -- Juan Carlos Rodriguez