Pictured: Andre Drummond visited Woodrow Wilson Junior High School last summer. John Geary, the Rams’ longtime basketball coach, created a montage of Drummond’s hoops career in the hallway off the gymnasium.
By Paul Augeri
Along with his big frame and big game, Andre Drummond has a big heart and a known soft spot for Middletown.
The veteran NBA center’s generosity now is helping multiple organizations during the COVID-19 crisis.
Drummond, who spent his junior high school years at Woodrow Wilson, is donating $100,000 to Middlesex Health’s Emergency Response Fund. The fund is used for medical necessities such as personal protective equipment for hospital staff and oxygen for patients.
Drummond’s mother worked at Middlesex Health while he was growing up.
The 26-year-old Drummond also is spreading his wealth in Cleveland, where he now plays, and Detroit. After seven-plus seasons with the Pistons, he was traded to the Cavaliers in March and played in eight games before the NBA shut down the season indefinitely.
Drummond is donating $60,000 to the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse staff to support them during the league’s suspension. And through audio company JBL, he has donated more than 10,000 headphones to kids in Cleveland and Detroit as they continue their online learning at home during the pandemic.
“Detroit, Cleveland and Middletown have all been places that I call home,” Drummond told ESPN. “Each city holds a place in my heart and I want to take care of the people who have given me so much over the years.”
“The employees at Rocket Mortgage helped me transition to Cleveland; they took care of me the moment I stepped into the arena; this was my chance to return the favor,” he said. “Frontline workers across the country need our support now more than ever. I grew up in Middletown and my mom worked at Middlesex Health when I was growing up. These healthcare workers are heroes and I wanted to be able to support them through this battle by helping them get the protection they need.”
In past years, Drummond has provided grants to the Northern Middlesex County YMCA to benefit teen programs. He has returned to Middletown during the NBA offseason to see family. Last summer, he stopped in at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School to check out a wall montage created by his former coach, John Geary, that celebrates his Wilson and pro careers.
After playing for one season at UConn under Jim Calhoun, the 6-foot-10 Drummond was drafted in 2012 by the Pistons with the ninth overall pick. For his career, the two-time All-Star averages 14.5 points and 13.8 rebounds per game – he’s led the league in rebounding three times — and shoots 54 percent from the field.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Friday the league remains committed to resuming play in 2020, adding there is no timetable for that to happen.