Alonzo Mourning won an NBA championship and played in the league for 15 years, but says it was a round of golf last week that goes down as one of his most memorable sports experiences.
Mourning joined President Obama for a round at Grande Oaks Golf Club, catching the president during a visit to South Florida for three fundraisers in two days. Mourning and Obama have been friends for a while, with the Miami Heat legend organizing fundraisers for Obama in the past.
They had been trying to organize a golf outing for a while, but had a hard time making it work. They were originally going to play in Martha’s Vinyard over the summer, but Alonzo Mourning couldn’t commit to it.
“But then it got late and I had to get my kids into school,” Mourning said. “So he reached out to and asked me to choose where to play.”
Mourning’s first choice was Turnberry Isle in Aventura, his home course, but the Secret Service objected.
“They said that wouldn’t work, because there were too many high-rises,” Mourning said. “The Secret Service asked for somewhere else.”
They ultimately decided on Grande Oaks, which was the same course where the movie Caddyshack was filmed.
Mourning said playing golf with the president was unlike anything he’d ever done.
“I spent six hours in a golf cart with the most powerful man in America talking everything from basketball to life after his term,” Mourning told the Sun Sentinel. “It was very surreal and enlightening.”
The two had actually played basketball in the past, but this was their first chance to golf together.
For Alonzo Mourning, it was more than just a day on the links, but a chance to talk with someone who shares his goal of public service.
During his 15-year NBA career and since his retirement, Mourning has taken on a large stature in the charitable world. In 1997 he founded Alonzo Mourning Charities Inc, which helps at-risk children and families.
After being diagnosed with focal glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), Alonzo Mourning launched Zo’s Fund for Life to raise money for research, education, and testing to fight glomerulosclerosis. He also joined a host of athletes including Muhammad Ali and Cap Ripken Jr. to found Athletes for Hope, which encourages professional athletes to get involved in charitable causes.
Much of Mourning’s work has focused on South Florida. In 2003 he founded the Overtown Youth Center in Miami, a place to support underprivileged children.
Mourning was not the only one to join Obama on the golf course. Their foursome also included former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Cyrus Walker, the cousin of senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.
President Obama was obviously impressed with Alonzo Mourning and his golf skills. When they finished the president signed their scorecard and wrote, “Thanks for carrying us today.”