CLEVELAND (WJW) — A man known for tearing it up on the basketball court was spending quality time mixing it up in the kitchen on Tuesday.
Charles Oakley, basketball star and founder of the Charles Oakley Foundation, returned home to Cleveland to help feed hundreds at the Cleveland Men’s Shelter.
Oakley said, “When I was playing ball and I used to go to these cities and you’re on the bus with other guys, I’m always observing what’s going on. I’m looking at people carrying bags, looking through garbage cans, this and that, and I said one day when I get a chance I’m gonna go to as many cities as I can and try to do something.”
Oakley graduated from John Hay High School and began his 19-year NBA career as a first-round pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He was then traded to the Chicago Bulls, then played for the New York Knicks and had a brief stint in Houston, before he retired from the game in 2004.
His passion for cooking, he said, happened organically.
“I’m a picky eater, my grandmother, my aunt’s my mother, my sister, they’re all great cooks.”
The shelter, operated by the non-profit Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, is a 24/7 operation.
Its 365 beds are filled every night.
Michael Sering, V.P. of Housing & Shelter said, “We’re the largest shelter in the state, and we really want to be the smallest shelter in the state; I think that really goes to the need of affordable housing and solutions.”
Oakley said, “I know I can’t help everybody, just try to do something, bring people together.”
He served thousands of meals in New York Monday, and will be serving meals in Chicago on Wednesday, then he’s headed to Nashville next week.