Tyson Chandler: a Towering Champion for Children

UNICEF Kid Power Champion Tyson Chandler throws himself into whatever he does. The NBA Center, recently completing his second year with the Phoenix Suns, leads the team both on and off the court. With a per game average of 8.4 points and 11.5 rebounds — 8th best in the league — this past season he propelled the Suns to some impressive wins. His proficient steadying presence also makes him a valued mentor to younger members of the team.

NBA up-and-comers, like Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender, aren’t the only young athletes who look up to him. Since joining the UNICEF Kid Power Team in 2015 as a UNICEF Kid Power Champion, Tyson has led and inspired well over 200,000 kids now getting active to help save the lives of severely malnourished children around the world.

“When I first heard about UNICEF Kid Power, I was actually on a date with my wife, Kimberly,” Tyson recalls. “She decided to bring the UNICEF Kid Power information along to make sure I looked it over.”

At the time, he was playing in Dallas, where he, Kimberly and their three children moved after Tyson left the New York Knicks for the Dallas Mavericks. When he heard how UNICEF Kid Power could help local U.S. kids and malnourished children around the world, he was sold.

“I have three kids of my own, and it’s important that they get out and play and get active,” says Tyson.  “So when I found out that kids help other children around the world just by being active, it was definitely something that I wanted to get involved with.”

With Kid Power’s rollout in Dallas, the Chandlers emerged as driving forces in the UNICEF Kid Power movement.  “It was very successful,” recalls Tyson. “The Dallas community got behind it, a lot of my teammates, a lot of former teammates.”

Once Tyson began playing for the Phoenix Suns, he and Kimberly worked to replicate that success.

Last year in March, the dynamic Chandler duo lead a pep rally at Crockett Elementary School to cheer on all the students making a big difference with the UNICEF Kid Power school program.

 

Phoenix Suns player and UNICEF Kid Power Champion Tyson Chandler and his wife, Kimberly Chandler, visited Crockett Elementary School in March 2016 for a pep rally to encourage kids to keep getting active and saving lives. Photos provided by the Phoenix Suns

“It truly moves me to see how excited kids are when they are empowered and encouraged to give back,” recalls Kimberly, who throughout the spring did her part to make UNICEF Kid Power Team Members in Phoenix feel supported — in person and on social media.

When top performing classrooms were invited to attend a Suns game, students got to hang out with Tyson and Kimberly before tip-off and were later recognized on-court — and on Kimberly’s Instagram feed.

“Tyson and I were so proud to honor Desert Meadows School for their contribution to  UNICEF Kid Power,” says Kimberly.

Congratulations to #AngieMunoz's 5th grade class who had the opportunity to attend the @Suns game #lastnight after being named the most active class in Phoenix. In just four weeks these awesome students were active enough to unlock 320 therapeutic food packets that will save the lives of children around the world!!! @unicefusa @tysonchandler and I were so proud to honor #DesertMeadowsSchool for their contribution to #UNICEFKidPower

A post shared by Its All About The Journey (@kimberlyjchandler) on

Photo provided by the Phoenix Suns

The Chandlers are always up for doing whatever they can to “help kids see the type of impact that they can have across the world,” explains Tyson. They both continue to be vocal boosters for the program. And by leading his very own UNICEF Kid Power  Mission to Uganda — home to many of the severely malnourished children UNICEF Kid Power helps — the Phoenix Suns Center has become a personal inspiration to kids across the U.S.

That virtual trip is hardly Tyson’s only exposure to the children UNICEF protects. Following his 2012 gold medal win with the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball team at the London Olympics, Tyson and Kimberly took their parents along on a UNICEF USA field visit to Tanzania. It was Tyson’s first trip to Africa. It was also his and Kimberly’s first chance to see all UNICEF does to provide children with life skills and vocational training and desperately needed health care for mothers of children with HIV/AIDS.

Tyson Chandler and his wife, Kimberly Chandler, with UNICEF in Tanzania. (Photo by UNICEF Tanzania/Joynson-Hicks)

“Traveling to Africa with UNICEF and seeing kids who don’t have access to an education, or who are living on the streets, was a life-changing experience for me,” says Tyson. “I’m incredibly honored to help raise awareness of UNICEF’s work that’s truly making a difference for the lives of children.”

Since then, the Chandlers have continued making a difference together. After returning from Tanzania, Tyson, then a New York Knick, donated the exclusive opportunity to spend a day with him during a Knicks practice as part of the 2012 UNICEF Snowflake Ball live auction.

Now a UNICEF Ambassador as well as a UNICEF Kid Power Champion, Tyson — and Kimberly — are outspoken advocates for UNICEF relief efforts whenever war, weather, and emergencies put children in harm’s way. They were staunch supporters of UNICEF’s relief efforts in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan and on behalf of Syrian children suffering from conflict and displacement. The Chandlers also championed the UNICEF Tap Project’s mission to provide clean, safe water for the children who need it most.

“Tyson’s deep commitment to saving and improving the lives of children is evident to those around him,” says Caryl Stern, President and CEO of UNICEF USA. “We’re excited that he’s using his voice to help shine a light on the issues that children around the world face every day, such as lack of access to clean water or medicine.”

Empowering American kids to get active and save lives with UNICEF Kid Power is a commitment Tyson has made to give children around the world their fair shot at full and healthy lives. But the father of three’s work for UNICEF Kid Power is personal, as well:

“I try to find ways for my kids to understand what, really, life is all about and how they can help others and give back — and see the impact that one person could have globally.”