For almost 50 years, I worked for the NBA – first as a player, then as a coach. Today, I’m grateful to use the name I made for myself to eliminate health disparities and level the playing field for kids in our community.
I’ll never forget meeting Dr. Blanche Lavizzo, the first medical director of Seattle Children’s Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic and the first female African-American pediatrician in the state of Washington. It was 1970 and I wanted to give back to the community that had embraced me when I came to play for the Supersonics.
At that meeting, Dr. Lavizzo gave me “the look” (she was famous for her stern gaze), then proceeded to talk to me about the importance of providing healthcare with dignity and respect to every child, regardless of their family’s income, race, religion or culture.
Dr. Lavizzo’s belief that all children deserve the opportunity to be the best of who they can be still guides the clinic’s work today. And it’s that focus on health equity that continues to make Odessa Brown my favorite cause.
Whenever I visit the clinic, I see staff members and caregivers cheering every child on. It’s a place where ethnically diverse families feel safe, and where I am inspired to make a difference. If you ever stop by the clinic, look for the painting of Dr. Lavizzo. She’s giving “the look” and making sure everything is going right!
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Published in Connection magazine, Spring 2017