Carmelo Anthony on Puerto Rico hurricane relief: 'The government completely turned their backs'

Carmelo Anthony interacts with kids as part of Worldwide Day of Play at Bahia Urbana Bay Side Park on Aug. 12, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (GV Cruz/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)
Carmelo Anthony interacts with kids as part of Worldwide Day of Play at Bahia Urbana Bay Side Park on Aug. 12, 2017 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (GV Cruz/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

As he continues to go through the process of making his way toward the team for whom he’ll play NBA basketball next season, Carmelo Anthony made a visit to CNN’s “The Van Jones Show” on Saturday to chat about matters of importance off the court.

The 10-time All-Star spoke with host Jones about his commitment to political and social activism, and his charitable work at home and abroad. On the latter, Jones asked Anthony — the son of a Puerto Rican father who died when ‘Melo was two years old, who has visited the island often over the years, and who founded a professional soccer team there — to assess the work done by the United States government to provide relief to the island after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, which touched down as a Category 4 storm last September and ravaged the island, resulting in the deaths of thousands of Puerto Ricans and causing an estimated $100 billion in damage.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist thinks those in charge have fallen far short.

“The hurricane really tore up Puerto Rico, and yet, I didn’t see the White House responding to that in the way that they should have,” Jones said. “Did that bother you, to see the White House kind of missing in action during the crisis in Puerto Rico?”

“It hurt,” Anthony said. “[As] somebody who’s spent a lot of time down there on the island, somebody who’s kind of gotten the opportunity to talk to those people over the years — I’ve been down there for almost 10-plus years, and I’m going back and forth and helping out — to see our government turn they back to that —”

“Puerto Ricans are American citizens,” Jones added.

“They’re American citizens, so if you turn your back to your own American citizens, then you can do anything,” Anthony continued. “That was something that I felt like it was a low blow, kind of, to me and to all the Puerto Ricans down there. Because we can’t control a Hurricane Maria. We just couldn’t control that. So the least you can do is just send the resources down there.”

Anthony did his part to provide aid to those in need after the storm. He spoke out about the need for those of us on the mainland to stay focused on providing Puerto Ricans the support they’d need to weather the difficult months ahead. His foundation started a crowdfunding drive for relief efforts, raising nearly $500,000 to go toward getting supplies and help to those in need, and he personally traveled to the island to try to get them to their destinations, which has proven to be a challenging process for many would-be benefactors.

“We did a great job. We sent airplanes down there with supplies, tools down there,” Anthony said.” We teamed up with a couple of other big companies, you know, trying just to get the supplies down there […] We had the supply stuff at the, you know, at the port. We couldn’t get in. We had to make calls and — it was just a lot. It was just sad that we had to go through that in order to help people.”

Now, some 10 months later, hundreds of Puerto Ricans are still without power. Thousands remain displaced. Anthony told Jones he understands how our attention can become diverted, but with another late-summer storm season fast approaching, a lot of people still need the help that those in power have been sow to provide.

“You can’t do everything. I get that. You can’t help everything, and help everybody out,” Anthony said. “But the things and people that really need the attention to, that’s who you’re supposed to be giving out the attention to. As far as the government, as far as the leader of our country, Puerto Rico is part of this country, and I just felt like the government completely turned their backs to that island.”

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Dan Devine is a writer and editor for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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