Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mailbag: Floyd Mayweather Jr. quietly pays the bills for a baby with a serious heart defect

source: Kevin Iole | Yahoo! Sports

LAS VEGAS – Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a man who inspires passion among boxing fans. To those who support him, he’s nothing less than the greatest fighter of all time. To those who despise him, he’s vastly overrated and avoids the toughest competition.

The truth, clearly, is somewhere in the middle.

But those who dislike the pound-for-pound champion will have to applaud his most recent move. Mayweather has paid all of the medical bills – currently in excess of $49,000 – for 10-month-old Austin York, who was born with a rare heart abnormality known as hypoplastic right heart syndrome.

When he was born, his right ventricle was abnormally small and neither ventricle functioned properly. One of his many issues was a lack of blood flow to his lungs. He had surgery in the first week of his life to fix that, with doctors inserting a 3.5 millimeter stent in it to redirect blood flow.

He had another surgery Oct. 28 to repair a leaking valve. He’s been on and off a breathing machine and recently had a third surgery, with more expected.

[Also: Manny Pacquiao says God told him to retire soon]

Mayweather assistant David L. Levi, a student at UNLV, was invited to a boxing card that was serving as a fundraiser for York on March 15. When Levi got to the function and heard the details, he phoned Mayweather, who agreed to pick up all of the child’s bills as a way to help his family.

“I spoke with Floyd on the phone and told him about the child and everything he and his family had been dealing with,” Levi said. “He responded, saying ‘Let them know I will take care of all the medical bills. I want to help him.’ The total of the medical bills that have piled up over the 10 months of Austin’s life add up to a little more than $49,000.”

Levi said that since Thanksgiving, Mayweather has rounded up his team and gone to soup kitchens in Las Vegas at least three times to feed the homeless.

He said that it’s almost always Mayweather’s idea to volunteer.

“A lot of people who don’t like him think he does these things for the media attention, but you know, we don’t even call the media and let them know,” Levi said. “He likes to do things locally so he feels he can make an impact in the community where he lives. He’s always coming up with these ideas and getting the team and bringing them to the soup kitchens, because he has compassion.

“He donated a ridiculous amount of toys at Christmas for needy kids. It was insane. But he does that kind of thing a lot.”

Mayweather does many things that aggravate people. But next time you want to knock him, at least keep his kindness toward the York family, people he did not know, in mind.