The game checks, worth up to $5.3 million, will help start the Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Impact Fund, which is designed to aid communities in New Orleans, Indianapolis and the Los Angeles area.
"Honestly when it came down to it, it was me and my wife talking about what we could do to kind of further this movement and progression and being able to help out our community and just being able to help," Jrue Holiday told ESPN.
"We were just kind of sitting in the house, in the bed, thinking about it, and my wife said, 'I think you should do this and you should do the rest of your salary.' That's a great idea. Because we want to make an impact. God has blessed us with so much. We know a couple of things that are important are time and money, and right now, we have both. To be able to give away our money to help further this movement and Black-owned businesses that have taken a hit in COVID-19, to us, it felt like the perfect time and opportunity."
Most of the money will be dedicated to nonprofits, Black-owned businesses and citywide initiatives that seek to bring about equitable outcomes for Black and Brown communities in New Orleans (up to $1.5 million), Los Angeles and Compton, Calif. (up to $1.5 million), and Indianapolis (up to $1 million). Another $1 million will go to Black-owned businesses in more than 10 other cities across the country, while $500,000 is committed to institutions of higher learning, including historically Black colleges and universities.
Jrue Holiday has played in New Orleans for the past seven seasons and said he has come to know the community and education system intimately. Lauren Holiday, a former standout player for the United States women's national soccer team, is from Indianapolis, and Jrue's brothers, Justin and Aaron, play for the Indiana Pacers. The Holiday family is from the Los Angeles area, and Jrue and Lauren met while they were playing at UCLA.
"I just feel like it's the perfect opportunity to pick those three cities that mean a lot to us and try to better those cities," Holiday said.
Holiday said it was important for the couple to commit to helping HBCUs throughout this process and made sure that schools were getting some financial help.
"To be able to give away our money to help further this movement and black-owned businesses that have taken a hit in COVID-19, to us, it felt like the perfect time and opportunity."Jrue Holiday, on launching the Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Impact Fund
Since the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others sparked protests around the country, the Holidays have been trying to figure out what they could do to help. They wanted to attend protests but didn't because of Lauren's pregnancy.
"With everything going on in this world, it made me and my wife realize that we aren't invested in our community as we feel we should be," Jrue Holiday said. "This is one of those times to really, even though it's kind of a kick in the pants, you kind of feel like I should've known this or I should've been doing this before. But you're never too late. This is our time to contribute."
Holiday said he wrestled with whether he wanted to play in the NBA restart in Orlando, Florida, but ultimately decided to go. One reason is because he feels the Pelicans were making a strong push at the end of the season toward a playoff spot.
Another major reason was about making a statement.
"It's not just about the money for me and my family," Holiday said. "That's the important part. It's not just about me. It's not just about the money. I want people to see that. For us coming to Orlando and playing these games, giving away this money is what is important and trying to help others. Trying to support others during this hard time. Fortunately enough, we still have a job. We get paid very well to have this job. Me and wife felt like this was very important."