Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis experienced his first taste of hosting an upscale event and the proceeds were reaped by organizations in the city that he now calls home.
Ellis' giving efforts were recognized on Saturday (June 30) as his agency, the ME8Foundation, hosted its first public event, Romance on the Rooftop Day Party benefitting the National Civil Rights Museum and Stand for Children. The event featured R&B crooner Robin Thicke at the Peabody Hotel's Skyway and Rooftop.
The indoor and outdoor event showcased other artists and was filled with plenty of music, food, fun and dancing. The temperature outside hit a scorching 103 degrees, as supporters came prepared for the heat with sun hats, fans and umbrellas.
Thicke gave the crowd almost an hour of melodic soul music. He sang fan-favorite hits, including the top-charting love ballad "Lost Without You." Many sang along as Thicke beckoned to the crowd.
"It is gratifying to host an event like the day party and have so many people in the Memphis community support the ME8Foundation," Ellis said.
Ellis founded the ME8Foundation in 2010 and has donated more than $100,000 toward community efforts and philanthropic projects. The foundation's mission is to "strengthen the fabric of our community through philanthropic gifts in the areas of public service, education, preventive health, community development as well as broadening the awareness of issues that plague our community."
Ellis and the staff of the ME8Foundation selected the National Civil Rights Museum and Stand for Children as recipients of the day party's proceeds.
"Organizations like the Civil Rights Museum need to exist so that my grandchildren are able to walk through the doors of the museum and learn about the struggles and sacrifices of those who have paved the way for their equality," said Ellis.
"Growing up in the inner city of Jackson, Miss., I know first-hand the disparities in educational access. I support and admire Stand for Children for all that they do to ensure children receive a great education regardless of your background and/or socioeconomic status."
For the past two years, Ellis and his wife, Juanika, have been raising their two children, Monta Jr. and Myla Jai, as Memphis residents, dabbling in philanthropic efforts that profit the Memphis community and his hometown.
In November, the ME8Foundation provided Thanksgiving dinner to the 50-plus families residing at the Ronald McDonald House. Families stay at the facility while their children are undergoing treatment at St. Jude's Children Research Hospital. The foundation plans to continue the partnership with the Ronald McDonald House through monetary gifts to help support the families with their daily needs.
Growing up only three hours away from Memphis, the Jackson, Miss. native made a name for himself with his speed and his high-scoring ability, earning the nickname "The Mississippi Bullet."
Ellis was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the second round (40th overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft. In his third season, he became one of the team's top performers. He was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in March, where he continues to be a leading scorer.
(For more information and to learn of the foundation's upcoming events, visit www.ME8Foundation.org.)