Toronto's Jamaal Magloire, a star centre with the New Orleans Hornets of the NBA, has been devastated by the fury of Hurricane Katrina.
Magloire has a home in that city's fashionable Garden District, as well as a couple of luxury automobiles. He expects the hurricane, as well as the horrific floods which drowned the once-glorious Big Easy following the storm, has ruined his home and cars.
"Even if my stuff survived the hurricane, the looters probably intercepted it," the 2004 NBA all-star said from his Toronto home last night.
It's not, however, the loss of his own property that has crushed the former Eastern Commerce star.
"All that stuff is trivial to me," he said. "People lost their lives, people without home insurance lost their homes. My stuff can be replaced, because I've been blessed. Lives can't be replaced. Friends of mine are still looking for their siblings and their mothers and fathers. I don't care about my stuff."
Magloire, who still calls Toronto home during the off-season, was on vacation in New York City when the hurricane slammed into the Louisiana coast. He immediately began organizing a fund-raiser for the victims of the storm, and the details have now been finalized.
The gala will be held Thursday, Sept. 29 at the York Event Theatre (101 Eglinton Ave. E.) and will include dinner, live and silent auctions, and entertainment. Tickets are $300 and are available by calling Natalie Richardson at 416-441-1424 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Magloire plans to travel to New Orleans, cheque in hand, shortly after the gala to deliver the money personally.
"I will go to the school with the roof blown off, or homes that have been damaged, and make sure they're okay," Magloire said, his voice cracking with emotion. "But I can't do this on my own, I need help and I want to show the people of New Orleans the people of Toronto care."
Magloire, who averaged 11.7 points and 8.9 rebounds for the struggling Hornets last season, devotes much of his free time to numerous causes in the Toronto area, including encouraging inner-city kids to turn away from crime and drugs. He recently began a local basketball league.
But his attention now is focused on his second home.
"New Orleans is a good, loving environment, and I'd like to try to help to get that back," he said.
"I want to be part of it."
Hornets management has made noise about the team playing its regular-season games this season in Baton Rouge, La., or Oklahoma City.