Mavs' J.J. Barea Flies Home After Storm, Finds 'The Worst Thing To Happen To Puerto Rico'
Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea watched in horror as Hurricane Maria tore through his home island of Puerto Rico. He had to do something.
So in the middle of training camp, he texted Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, borrowed the team plane, loaded it with supplies and took it to Puerto Rico. Barea brought back 17 people, including his mother and grandmother.
What he saw when he looked out the plane window: "Oh, man, it doesn't look anything like Puerto Rico. The water's ugly. There's not enough sand. The green is gone...The only traffic is people all in line to go get gas. It's not good, man. It's the worst thing that could ever happen to an island or to Puerto Rico."
How Barea convinced Cuban to let him take the team plane: "I'm lucky. I've got a family in Dallas with the Dallas Mavericks. I love this town. I've got a great relationship with Mark...I sent him a text just saying, 'Hey, what do you think about taking the team plane to Puerto Rico full of stuff?' And he texted me back a couple minutes later and said, 'Check your email.' ...And after 100 emails, we were ready to go."
His experience with Hurricane Georges in 9th grade: "It went straight through my town. I was young. I remember being in my room. I thought the windows were going to fly off. It was an overnighter, so it was six, seven hours of the loudest noise...We didn't have water or electricity for three weeks to four weeks. That was 20 years ago, and now this is even worse."
Barea and his wife, Viviana Ortiz, are sponsoring an online fund drive to help storm victims in Puerto Rico. They've raised more than $150,000 so far.