Michael Jordan, Warren Sapp and Roger Clemens tee off in the first Derek Jeter Celebrity Classic.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published January 20, 2004
TAMPA - He grew up in western Michigan and grew into a charismatic megastar in New York. But Derek Jeter considers Tampa home now, and Monday he gathered a couple dozen friends from the sports world to help his adopted community.
There was boxing champion Roy Jones hyping a potential summer bout with Mike Tyson, Warren Sapp (in his customized QB Killa golf cart) and Michael Jordan needling each other about missed putts and missed playoffs, and Roger Clemens smiling but not talking about unretiring with the Astros.
And there, smiling nervously in the middle of it all, was Jeter, stationed on the eighth tee at the Avila Golf & Country Club, belittling his own skills while playing the par-3 hole with each group participating in the first Derek Jeter Celebrity Golf Classic.
"This is a good way to get it going," Jeter said. "And without question (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) is a great day to have it."
The tournament benefited the Turn 2 Foundation, which Jeter and his family started to fund programs that promote healthy, drug- and alcohol-free lifestyles for youths.
Jeter has held fundraising events and made contributions to groups in Michigan and New York, but this was his first event in Tampa, where he moved in 1994. Proceeds will be split among three bay area groups: the Hillsborough Education Foundation scholarship program, the St. Peter Claver Catholic School and the Phoenix House.
"I've lived here for a while and spend a lot of time here in the offseason so we wanted to move it down here," Jeter said.
Jeter grew up a fan of Dave Winfield and wanted to not only match his success on the field but was impressed that Winfield established a charitable foundation. Jeter told his father that if he made it to the major leagues, he was going to do the same, and has followed through, raising in excess of $3.5-million.
The turnout of big-name celebrities, such as Jordan, Jones, Clemens and LPGA star Beth Bauer, and locals such as Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Gary Sheffield, and Lou Piniella, proved how much impact he has.
"I love the type of things Derek does," Jones said. "I know if Derek's doing it, it will be good."