December 25, 2008 in Sports

Wade makes South Florida family’s holiday happier

From staff and wire reports
 

When Dwyane Wade heard the plight of a South Florida woman whose nephew accidentally burned down her home – and ruined all the family’s possessions – the Miami Heat star knew he had to do something.

So he helped the family move into a new home, just in time for Christmas.

Wade presented Dawn Smith with the ultimate Christmas gift Wednesday – the keys to a her new house, along with some furnishings, clothing and gifts to make sure her family has a joyous holiday, something that didn’t seem likely just a few weeks ago.

His Wade’s World foundation will make some payments on the home, while Smith and her family get back on their feet.

“That’s what I try to teach my kids,” said Wade, whose foundation has hosted several charity events this holiday season, mostly for needy children. “It’s not about what you’re going to receive – it’s what you can give to others from what you’ve received.”

Smith couldn’t hold back happy sobs when she saw the home for the first time.

“A big-time relief,” Smith said, clearly overcome by emotion. “Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Oh, God, thank you so much.”

The NBA’s leading scorer this season had a simple message: “Hopefully, you’ll like it.”

Wade’s other holiday events this year included a party for 350 children on Monday, and hosting 100 kids at Tuesday night’s Heat game against the Golden State Warriors. He also donated $10,000 to each of three children’s organizations, but said he was particularly touched by being able to assist the Smith family.

“We can help this family have a new beginning,” Wade said.

Grizzlies get Francis: Oft-injured guard Steve Francis was traded from the Houston Rockets to the Memphis Grizzlies for a conditional second-round draft pick in 2011.

The Grizzlies also receive a second-round pick for 2009 and cash. That pick originally belonged to Memphis. It was acquired by the Rockets during last year’s draft, part of the deal that brought forward Donte Greene to Houston. Greene was later traded to Sacramento as part of the trade that brought Ron Artest to the Rockets.

The 6-foot-3 Francis has not played this season, though he remained a fan favorite from his previous stint with the team from 1999-2004. He was an All-Star three straight seasons (2002-04) and led the Rockets to the playoffs in 2004, where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round.

The 31-year-old Francis has career averages of 18.1 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds, but he hasn’t played a full season since 2004-05 with Orlando. He was traded to New York during the 2005-06 season and played only 38 games for the Knicks the next year because of knee and ankle injuries.

He re-signed with Houston in July 2007, but played in only 10 games during the 2007-08 season after tearing a quadriceps tendon in his right knee. He underwent surgery in February 2008 and never regained his old form. Fans still often chanted his name during home games and called radio talk shows, asking why he wasn’t playing more.

NFL

Singletary could be 49ers’ long-term solution

Mike Singletary has been a remarkable short-term solution to the San Francisco 49ers’ woes. With each passing week, the interim coach is looking more like the long-term fix as well.

When the 49ers (6-9) began preparations for their season finale against Washington, Singletary acknowledged meeting with the team’s top officials about his future earlier in the week. According to the Sacramento Bee, Singletary laid out a plan for the 49ers that wowed the club’s leadership, which could announce Singletary’s appointment to the full-time job early next week.

“I will just say this: I don’t interpret anything as … really good or really bad,” said Singletary, whose club has won four of its past six. “I think the most important thing is that I just continue to stay focused. After it’s all said and done, we can look back at how positive things are, and our direction or whatever, and we can fully pay attention to it.”

Because Singletary is the NFL’s seventh current black head coach, the 49ers wouldn’t be required under the Rooney Rule to hold additional interviews after the season before promoting an interim coach.

John and Jed York haven’t responded to requests for comment on Singletary’s situation, but the unpopular owners undoubtedly have noticed the 49ers’ improved play along with the groundswell of Bay Area fan support for the Hall of Fame linebacker.

Singletary’s players certainly are in their coach’s corner.

“The way guys have responded to him and played for him says a lot,” said quarterback Shaun Hill, who’s 4-3 as a starter with one of the NFL’s best passer ratings since Singletary promoted him. “Those decisions aren’t up to us, but we feel like we can turn the corner with what we have.”

Singletary took over for Mike Nolan on Oct. 20, one day after San Francisco dropped to 2-5 with a loss at the Giants.

The 49ers then lost the first two games of Singletary’s tenure before the current surge, led by Shaun Hill’s cool passing and a once-awful defense that has allowed fewer than 17 points in five of the last six games.

With a victory over Washington in Sunday’s finale, the Niners could finish 7-9 to match their best record during six consecutive losing seasons since John York fired coach Steve Mariucci following a second-round playoff defeat.

If Singletary returns, most believe he’ll have to find a new offensive coordinator – San Francisco’s seventh new face at the job in seven years.

Mike Martz, hired in January by Nolan in an effort to revitalize the NFL’s worst offense in two of the previous three seasons, has breathed life into San Francisco’s effort. But the former St. Louis head coach runs a pass-first scheme that doesn’t seem to fit Singletary’s belief in a run-oriented attack.

Martz acquiesced to Singletary’s now-obvious promotion of Hill over Martz favorite J.T. O’Sullivan, and Martz also bent his game plans to accommodate Singletary’s desire for a sturdier running game. Although Martz and Singletary seem to get along well, both might be better off on their own.

“I think everything that I asked him to do, he made every attempt to do the things he needed to do,” Singletary said when asked about Martz’s future in San Francisco.

“Going forward, I just feel that after the season, we have to sit down … and look at what gives us the best opportunity to win.”

Chiefs lack sacks: In addition to having the worst record in team history, the young Kansas City Chiefs (2-13) go into Sunday’s finale at Cincinnati in jeopardy of entering the record book as the worst pass-rushing team in the history of the league.

The record for fewest sacks in a 16-game season is 13 by the 1981 Colts. The Chiefs, with one game to go, have nine.

MISCELLANY

Armstrong’s girlfriend expecting baby in June

Lance Armstrong may be busy baby-sitting between two major races next year.

Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven consecutive years after overcoming testicular cancer, and his girlfriend, Anna Hansen, are expecting a baby in June.

He is scheduled to compete in the Giro d’Italia, which runs from May 9-31 and the Tour de France, which begins July 4.

“Anna and I are thrilled to confirm that we are expecting in June and our families are ecstatic and grateful,” Armstrong said in a statement released Tuesday night.

Rae Bazzarre, a spokeswoman for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, said in an e-mail to the Associated Press that the baby was conceived naturally.

Armstrong had three children with his ex-wife, Kristin, using in vitro fertilization with sperm he had banked before undergoing chemotherapy.

Three years after retiring following his last Tour de France win, Armstrong announced in September his return to competition and the Tour de France in 2009.

He called his comeback an attempt to raise global awareness in his fight against cancer.

Ronaldinho’s house burglarized: Thieves broke into soccer star Ronaldinho’s house and made off with thousands of dollars worth of goods but left behind the AC Milan midfielder’s Golden Ball trophy, Italian media reports said.

Ronaldinho was in his native Brazil when the burglary took place early Tuesday morning, Corriere della Sera reported. Four thieves stole mainly jewelry and watches, Corriere reported.

Ronaldinho, who won the Golden Ball award as the best player in Europe in 2005, is in his first season with Milan.

He recently moved into the house, which has been broken into twice before while previous owners lived there, including former Milan player Riccardo Sogliano.

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