The wildfires burning across New South Wales and Victoria have left millions of acres of land destroyed

By Helen Murphy
January 03, 2020 03:42 PM
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As devastating wildfires blaze across Australia, some athletes are pledging money to support the victims.

LaMelo Ball — who is American but plays for the Illawarra Hawks, an Australian professional basketball team — recently pledged to donated one month of his National Basketball League salary to help victims of the fires, according to a statement released by the Hawks.

“It’s sad to see what is happening on the South Coast of Australia,” Ball, 18, said in the press release. “People have lost their homes and everything they own. My parents taught me to help out wherever I can, so this is my way of helping out.”

Ball is the younger brother of basketball star Lonzo Ball and is considered a top prospect for the 2020 NBA draft.

Meanwhile, Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios tweeted at Tennis Australia on Wednesday, suggesting that the organization put on a charity exhibition match to raise funds for wildfire victims. The athlete then jump-started the donations by pledging $200 Australian dollars for every ace he hits at upcoming matches.

LaMelo Ball; Nick Kyrgios
| Credit: Kelly Defina/Getty; Brendon Thorne/Getty

“I’m kicking off the support for those affected by the fires,” he wrote on Twitter. “I’ll be donating $200 per ace that I hit across all the events I play this summer.”

According to CNN, Kyrgios, 24, hit 20 aces at a match on Friday, adding up to a donation of $4,000 Australian dollars.

“I don’t really care about the praise too much, I just think we’ve got the ability and the platform to do something like that,” Kyrgios said after the match, according to CNN.

“It’s tough to go out there and concentrate on tennis, to be honest,” he added. “Every ace I was hitting that’s all I was thinking about. Every time I stepped up to the line that’s all I was thinking about.”

After Kyrgios’ tweets, other tennis players including Alex de Minaur, John Millman and Samantha Stosur also pledged donations based on aces scored. Tennis Australia also announced on Friday that they would hold a “Rally for Relief” exhibition match ahead of the Australian Open to raise funds for wildfire relief efforts.

According to the Associated Press, Australian cricket players Chris Lynn and Glenn Maxwell have also both pledged to donate $250 Australian dollars for every “six” they hit while playing. (In cricket, a “six” is a way to score runs that involves hitting the ball over the boundary.)

“It is special to see so many athletes from various sports getting in behind the real heroes who are fighting to save lives and properties around our country ?,” Lynn tweeted on Tuesday.

The brushfire crisis has claimed the lives of at least 17 people and burned through more than 11 million acres since it sparked in September. A seven-day state of emergency was declared on December 23.

As the more than 130 fires continue to burn across New South Wales and Victoria, ecologists from the University of Sydney believe almost half a billion total mammals, birds and reptiles have died since September.

With strong winds and high temperatures expected to come in on Saturday, officials are warning residents that they could create incredibly dangerous conditions — even worse than past weeks — and mandating that they evacuate.