Sixers' Dalembert fears worst in quake-stricken Haiti

Samuel Dalembert played with a heavy heart last night as his thoughts were on his quake-stricken homeland.
Samuel Dalembert played with a heavy heart last night as his thoughts were on his quake-stricken homeland.
Posted: January 14, 2010

It was a routine Tuesday for Samuel Dalembert: He participated in a clinic for a group of youngsters and ran some errands. Then he heard the news.

The 76ers center learned via a message left on his cell phone that an earthquake earlier in the day had devastated his home country of Haiti.

Before the Sixers hosted the New York Knicks last night, Dalembert said he had made an attempt to schedule a flight to Haiti, but he soon found out that no planes were going in or out of the country.

"I feel so helpless that I have not been able to do anything," said Dalembert, a 28-year-old native of Port-au-Prince who has been active in raising funds to help poverty-stricken Haiti. "My father was able to e-mail me, but I haven't had any other contact yet to know how everybody is."

In addition to his father, Dalembert has a 15-year-old brother, a 16-year old sister, and other family members from his father's side who are dealing with the aftermath of the strongest earthquake to hit Haiti in 200 years. Dalembert's mother, grandmother, and another sister reside in Florida.

Dalembert said he spoke to his grandmother by phone yesterday, and he said she was so upset by the news that he had to call a doctor to attend to her. His grandmother, Hypromene Charle, raised Dalembert until he joined his parents in Montreal at age 14.

His grandmother has been living in the United States for only about six months. Dalembert's mother left Haiti more than 20 years ago, and his sister grew up in Montreal.

The seven-year Sixers veteran founded the Samuel Dalembert Foundation in 2007. He was at the organization's headquarters in Bala Cynwyd yesterday as the foundation teamed with UNICEF, the Red Cross, and Feed the Children to support relief efforts in Haiti. The foundation is also focused on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in his native country.

Dalembert is planning to build and operate the Dalembert Academy, which will house a school and a training facility in Haiti. But the earthquake's effects no doubt will delay that plan as Dalembert considers how to help out in his homeland.

In August, Dalembert visited Haiti.

"Some things have progressed, and some have not," he said. "It was sad."

Sixers coach Eddie Jordan said yesterday that the team has rallied around its big man. He had Dalembert in his starting lineup last night, as usual.

"He and I met first, and then we brought the team together and we were compassionate about what happened in Haiti," Jordan said. "And we're sensitive to the fact that he has a lot of family and friends there. We're family, too, and, hopefully, he can get his mind on the game. It's not going to be easy, but hopefully, for two hours he can escape - and take care of business after the game."


How to help

To help support the relief efforts in Haiti, go to The Samuel Dalembert Foundation at www.dalembertfoundation.org/.


Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or katatum@phillynews.com.

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