Q&A with Shane Battier: Holidays, Life After Basketball & Changing the World

With his stellar career as a Duke Blue Devil, aggressive defense on the basketball court, and of course, those two NBA championships with the Miami Heat, Shane Battier is a household name here in Miami. And though he’s stepped away from his days in the NBA, he’s adding a new reason to love him to the list: philanthropy. Teaming up with his wife Heidi to start The Battier Take Charge Foundationan educational charity that gives underserved youth the funding they need to chase their own dreams, Shane has already awarded over $180K in college scholarships to first-generation students across the nation.

Shane Battier SPEAKING9

And because we wanted to find out more about all he’s doing, we caught up with the basketball great at The Village of Merrick Park’s Annual Tree Lighting  which he hosted – to talk charity, the holidays, and of course, life off the court for Shane Battier. Here’s what he had to say:

Tell us about your foundation. What makes it so special?I believe in opportunity and access. I would not have been able to graduate from a school like Duke or play 13 years in the NBA and win a few championships without being provided an opportunity and creating my own. This is why my wife Heidi and I started The Battier Take Charge Foundation. We believe in using our platform to create and sustain educational opportunities for at-risk youth in our community. We provide college scholarships and mentoring to a group of special kids who will change the world for the better, but just need a little opportunity and access to get there. It’s special because these kids are special – and they deserve a chance to maximize their potential through a college education.”

You and Heidi both seem so passionate about the cause. What inspired you both to start The Battier Take Charge Foundation? “Heidi and I were raised to be civically-minded, and we feel we can make a huge difference in our community by promoting education. Heidi is a former teacher, and we spent enough time with her students to see that the educational needs of many talented kids were being underserved. We want to change that.” 

Why do you think higher education is so important for children today? How did your education impact you? “Education is vital. Most employers won’t ask you back for a second interview without a college diploma; it’s the key that opens doors for your future. Once that door is open, skills like working well with others, discipline, sacrifice, and work ethic will ultimately determine your level of success. All of these skills are developed and honed in college and essential for every successful person. My ability to think critically and raise the level of the group I work with are lessons I learned in college that helped me become a world champion – as well as start a successful foundation.”

Why is giving back so important? “We all have a responsibility to make our community, and our world, a better place. Albert Schweitzer said, ‘One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.’ I like being happy.”

Tell us about life after the Miami Heat. Outside of the work you do with your foundation, what is a day in the life of Shane Battier? “I try to keep life dynamic. Between developing The Battier Take Charge Foundation, the public speaking circuit, investing in sports technology companies, consulting, yoga, carpools, shopping at Milam’s, trying to be a present dad and husband, keeping up with my Heat, and trying to squeeze in 18 holes now and then, I stay fairly busy. I miss my teammates and the competition, but my body feels great!”

The Village of Merrick Park’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting was (once again) a huge success. What are some favorite holiday traditions that you and Heidi have started with your family? “Ugly sweaters – love ‘em. I’m always looking for the tackiest one I can find. I bought a nice crocheted red reindeer sweater vest a few years back off an 85-year-old lady on eBay, and it’s my crown jewel. As long as I’m with good friends and family, have some nice wine in my cup and some good holiday music, everything is great.”

Should we keep an eye out for the Battier children on the pro-basketball scene? “I tell my kids what my parents told me: You can do anything you want, just try to be the best at whatever you choose. Pretty good advice. Worked well for me.”

And finally, given your love for philanthropy, if there was one thing you (or your foundation) could do for all children this holiday season, what would it be? “If I could snap my fingers and allow every child to feel safe, feel loved, and be fed well, it would be tough to top. That’s what the holidays mean to me.”

Shane Battier, Santa & Family