AMES, Iowa — His upbringing has influenced his game on the basketball court.
“I know how rough and tough Flint is, so I just try to play with that edge,” Iowa State point guard Monte Morris said.
For Morris, home is where the heart is.
“Every time I lace up here, I’m representing Flint.”
Right now, his family and hometown are experiencing heartache.
“It’s rough right now,” Morris said. “The water isn’t good to drink. To shower, some people are using bottled water.”
In April of 2014, under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager, the city temporarily began drawing it’s water from the Flint River in a cost saving measure while a new water pipeline from Lake Huron was completed.
Morris remembers when the switch occurred and said, “The water changed and they opened up the water tower and it was pure yellow. It looked very bad.”
After nearly two years of denial, the state’s Department of Environmental Quality has now admitted it failed to treat Flint’s water for corrosive materials which eroded lead pipes and contaminated the city’s drinking water, putting lives at risk.
“For kids to be using the water so long, and now they have lead poisoning,” Morris said.
Morris is worried about their future.
“They say lead poising causes memory damage. That’s an opportunity. When you are losing a little knowledge up top, that might be your opportunity to pass the ACT,” Morris said. “It just hurts me inside to know my city is going through that and as of right now I can’t do much for it.”
Now, the Iowa State community is following Monte’s point guard mentality with an assist on GoFundMe.com. Senior marketing and management major and ISU cheerleader Bria Nelson created the page even though she isn’t even from Michigan.
“I was really affected by the crisis happening there so I really just wanted to give back,” Nelson said. “I feel like it’s something not enough people do and it’s so easy.”
A recent trip back home provided motivation and perspective for Morris.
“Plenty of kids that watch me, I go home to the Boy’s and Girl’s Club and they are running up to me,” Morris said. “You know those are the same kids drinking that water.”
It has sparked a new passion not only for a championship run for the Cyclone faithful but now for his city in need.
“I’m just trying to give the city hope and something to be proud of,” Morris said.
You can help donate to the fundraiser by clicking here. 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to The United Way of Genesee County.