Zach LaVine is still only 21 years old and not even two seasons into his NBA career with the Timberwolves, but the two-time Slam Dunk Champion is paying huge dividends in the Minnesota community.
LaVine was on hand at Metro Deaf School in St. Paul for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on a new kitchen. It was revealed that the new addition was paid for by Lavine, in the form of a $10,000 donation of his dunk contest winnings.
Metro Deaf serves about 100 students who are hearing-impaired.
"The biggest part for me growing up was interacting with kids during lunch time and recess," LaVine said (via the AP). "They get all their meals catered in. I just thought it would be cool for them to be able to socialize and be able to hang out with each other, eat food together, instead of having to sit in class and eat and regular stuff."
LaVine learned American Sign Language in high school, which he took instead of a different foreign language, like Spanish. It's helped establish a connection between him and the students. Susan Lane-Outlaw, the school's executive director, explained:
The kids were like, "He knows how to sign!" That's the biggest thing. He knows American Sign Language. I think the kids connect with that. From there it just blossomed.
LaVine admits that he's still learning and perfecting his signing, but the children definitely respect his effort.
"Sometimes they lose me. But just seeing, oh wow he can do this, is kind of cool," he said. "It would be like the same thing if I saw one of them come to a basketball court and dribble between their legs and shoot it, I would be like, 'whoa wait a minute, I can relate with this kid.'"