NBA legend’s generosity amplifies impact of signature fundraising event during Bayou Classic weekend


New Orleans, La. – The Kicks Ball, an annual fundraising event hosted by the Grambling University Foundation, witnessed a remarkable moment of philanthropy as a generous donation of $500,000 from Magic Johnson Enterprises was announced during the black-tie affair.


Presented by adidas, the event was held during Bayou Classic Weekend at the Hilton Riverside New Orleans and brought together an array of alumni and supporters of higher education. The Grambling University Foundation’s mission to advance the institution for excellence took center stage, and the evening unfolded as a celebration of glamour, generosity, and commitment to impacting the lives of students at Grambling State University.


Upon entering the Chemin Royale foyer of the grand ballroom, attendees were greeted by elegant visual experiences that included an adidas branded wall outfitted with several pairs of the Grambling State Rivalry shoe, a portrait opportunity with New Orleans photographer Tyler Roi, and several items to bid on as part of the silent auction. Social media influencers Makayla and Makyla Dowdell (known as the Mad Twinz) were also on hand to interview program participants.


Once doors opened to the ballroom, guests were welcomed to a captivating ambiance and the musical stylings of Ashanti the Mad Violinist as they took their seats. The night proceeded with local anchor Kelsey Davis and actor/comedian/TV personality Bill Bellamy who served as Masters of Ceremonies. After fine dining ensued, Davis and Bellamy took everyone on a journey about the party with a purpose as moving vignettes played, Kicks Ball awardees were presented, and the fundraising segment of the event began.


Christina Francis, President of Magic Johnson Enterprises announces Magic Johnson’s $500,000 gift to benefit the GAP Scholarship Fund.


A Game-Changing Gift


In a moment that left attendees in awe, Christina Francis, President of Magic Johnson Enterprises took the stage to announce a substantial donation of $500,000 to the Grambling University Foundation to benefit the GAP Scholarship Fund. Although the NBA legend was unable to attend, he wanted to express his admiration for the Foundation’s dedication to fostering education and empowering students.


“Dr. Richard Gallot has been an amazing leader for Grambling State University. His vision has helped prepare the young Black men and women at Grambling in their progression as top leaders in today’s society. While I did not attend a HBCU, I’ve made it my life’s mission to invest in our community and I believe that begins with investing in our young people,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Chairman and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises. “I’m blessed to be able to financially support Grambling and other HBCUs to ensure their students have a top-notch education and as many opportunities as possible to be successful.”


The unexpected gift from Magic Johnson Enterprises significantly amplified the impact of the Kicks Ball Gala and will create a continual effect on the sustainability of the GAP Scholarship fund.


“It’s hard to put into words. I think it is a reminder that we’re on the right track,” said Brandon A. Logan, Executive Director of the Grambling University Foundation. “The university is reaping the harvest like never before. I’m just honored to be a part of developing a strategy and executing a plan that is yielding results that we’ve never seen before. And all glory to God, I’m grateful for the team and it just shows what we’re capable of when we can unify over something that has good purpose and meaning.”


Logan also expressed his appreciation for Grambling State alumni and supporters. Commonly referred to as GramFam, he said this is a significant moment that we can’t escape, but it’s also not the end.


“This should be our floor as we work towards the ceiling. So there’s much more in store,” said Logan. “I encourage everyone to lean in to where they can contribute. It is going to take a collective effort to make the type of difference that we all envision and see for our Institution.”


As guests began to enjoy the soulful sounds of Anthony Hamilton and the Ton3s, Grambling State University President Rick Gallot reflected upon the evening with optimism for what lies ahead.


“I believe what we’ve seen tonight is a reflection of [Logan’s] focus on making the event special,” said President Gallot. “Everybody’s been very intentional about taking time to learn the Why behind this event. We have the potential now to see GSU funding through the Student Gap Fund in a way that we will be able to continue to see funds available in perpetuity.”


The 2024 Kicks Ball Gala is set for November 22.