NBA Player's Family Escapes Puerto Rico on Team Plane
Mark Cuban approved JJ Barea's request to send aid, pick up his family
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2017 7:33 AM CDT
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Dallas Mavericks guard JJ Barea juggles during an NBA basketball team media day in Dallas on Monday.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)

(Newser) – It usually carries very tall men from city to city across the continental US, but the Dallas Mavericks team plane made an important detour to Puerto Rico ahead of the team's first day of training camp Tuesday. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gave the thumbs up for the plane to fly food, water, and other supplies to the hurricane-ravaged island Monday at the request of Mavericks point guard and native Puerto Rican JJ Barea, who also made the trip, reports ESPN. It came only a day after Barea was able to communicate with his family on the island for the first time since Hurricane Maria wrought havoc last week. Barea, 33, told the Dallas Morning News Monday that his family is safe, "but it's still rough there."

Barea—who has already raised $140,000 for recovery efforts together with his wife, Viviana Ortiz, a former Miss Universe Puerto Rico—planned to return to Dallas with his mother and grandmother on Tuesday, said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. "That's a situation that he's got to take care of," Carlisle told ESPN. "I was really proud of JJ and how quickly he got involved and how hard he worked to make all of this happen," Cuban added. In a similar move, rapper Pitbull used his private plane to get cancer patients out of Puerto Rico so they could undergo chemotherapy, reports the New York Daily News. "Thank God we're blessed to help. Just doing my part," Pitbull said Tuesday. (Jennifer Lopez is also helping out.)

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