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‘There’s always that fire burning in us’: How Kings’ Buddy Hield plans to help rebuild the Bahamas

The Sacramento guard is assisting with recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Dorian

On Buddy Hield’s fundraiser page to help with relief for the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the Sacramento Kings guard succinctly described the people of his home country.

“Bahamians are a strong people,” Hield wrote.

That mantra partly explains what’s driven the 26-year-old to take a leading role in assisting with the cleanup and recovery efforts of the Bahamas after this week’s hurricane, with wind speeds of up to 185 mph that lasted nearly 40 hours, left at least 30 people dead (with additional thousands reportedly still missing), roads and airports flooded and, according to the United Nations, at least 70,000 people in need of lifesaving aid.

Hield, a native of the Grand Bahama island — which, along with the Great Abaco island, was hit the hardest by the Category 5 storm — has taken it upon himself to be a prominent voice in directing financial assistance and supplies to the area.

Hield launched a GoFundMe on Tuesday to aid in relief efforts, with a target goal of $1 million. As of Friday, he had raised more than $100,000. Hield also donated $100,000 of his own money. On Thursday, the Kings announced that the Sacramento Kings Foundation; Buddy Hield Foundation; Ranadivé Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé; and co-owners of the Kings, the Jacobs family, would be donating $105,000 total to UNICEF USA.

Debris and damaged houses are seen on devastated Great Abaco island in the Bahamas on Sept. 6. Hurricane Dorian hit the island chain as a Category 5 storm, battering the islands for two days before moving north.

Jose Jimenez/Getty Images

“I’m just grabbing a position right now to help take care of my country, somewhere I grew up, somewhere I love and cherish,” Hield told The Undefeated over the phone Wednesday.

Aside from Hield, fundraisers and/or donations from WNBA player Jonquel Jones ($32,000), the Canadian government ($500,000) and international nonprofit organization GlobalGiving ($570,000), among others, have helped raise more than $1 million for the Bahamas.

And while all the assistance will help those affected on the country’s various islands, there are immediate issues that local officials are struggling to address because of continued flooding and blocked roadways.

Some residents are trapped in their homes with scarce food. There’s no running water or electricity. Oil from a Norwegian energy company tank has been leaking into the ocean. People can’t even cross roads because they were flooded. Thousands of flights were canceled because Leonard M. Thompson International Airport, located on the Abaco Islands, was 6 feet underwater. According to The New York Times, health officials warned of an impending health crisis, partly due to contaminated water.

The hardest thing for Hield has been staying in touch with family and friends on the affected islands. Cellphone service has been down or severely limited since the hurricane made landfall on Sunday. He’s had to use the social media platform Snapchat to stay in touch with loved ones.

“It feels like a dream and cannot wake up,” he said. “It’s hard, the experience, for people who never really been through this kind of catastrophic disaster.”

And Hield has gone through this numerous times.

Since December 1992, when Hield was born, the Bahamas has been hit by at least 16 hurricanes. In the span of a week in September 2004, Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne both swept over the northwestern islands of the Bahamas, including Great Bahama.

On Hield’s fundraiser page, he lists basic supplies people can donate to those in need in the Bahamas, such as baby products, water, first-aid kits and beds. “They’re most in need for like food and diapers, little things that can go a long way. … It’s for a long way that it can last and take them through this.

“It’s going to hurt for a little while.”

Through it all, Hield’s faith has kept him level and sane during this entire tragedy. “God doesn’t make mistakes,” he said. “He knows what he’s working, and he’s gonna make the Bahamas even a much better place in the future to come.”

With Kings training camp starting at the end of September, and with travel to the northwestern islands still limited or nonexistent, Hield said he will only be able to spend less than 24 hours at home whenever he can make his way there. “I can’t stay there. The island’s really bad, and there’s no water. People can’t flush their toilet bowls.” (Hield’s mother, who is still on the island because of her parents, has to use water from her swimming pool to flush the toilet.)

But even thousands of miles away, Hield calls it his duty to aid those back home.

“I’m in a position where I can help my country out, no matter what. I have a good heart regardless of if I’m in the NBA or not. My No. 1 goal was always to give back as growing up in the Bahamas,” Hield said. “That’s something that’s instilled in my heart and something that’s always going to be instilled in my heart.”

Through it all, as he wrote on the fundraiser page, Hield knows his people will rebound from this.

“We’ve been through the struggle, so there’s always that fire burning in us, and we’re strong in that and built that way,” he said. “So things that you guys might think is hard, it might be easy for us because we’ve already been through it.

“So no matter if I’m in the NBA or not, I always never forget where I come from.”

Martenzie is an associate editor for The Undefeated. His favorite cinematic moment is when Django said "Y'all want to see somethin?"