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Devin Booker surprises non-profits with grants as part of 2021 Starting 5

(AP Photo/Matt York)

Devin Booker and Phoenix Suns Charities on Friday invited five non-profits to take in the team’s game against the upstart New York Knicks.

During what eventually ended as a 128-105 win for the Suns was an even bigger victory for those organizations: Arizona Autism United, Central Arizona Shelter Services, the YMCA of Southern Arizona, GAP Ministries and Elevate Phoenix.

Invited and told by the team they were finalists for Booker’s Starting Five — the star guard’s most notable charitable program — those five non-profits learned through a video message that they had all, in fact, won the grants each worth $100,000.

The announcement made official the second round of funding for Booker’s Starting Five initiative.

He spoke Saturday about the experience of surprising the local charitable leaders that he decided to help out.

“They’re using the grant wisely. They’re renovating courts, adding learning spaces,” the Suns guard said. “Bunch of good groups that went through a selection process with Phoenix Suns Charities. Obviously, COVID restricted the way we could announce it and we wanted to come up with a plan: Having them at the game and finding out there in a big win was a really cool moment.

“Just another one of those feelings, there’s not really words I can describe. Always the brightest moments of my career,” Booker added. “Just seeing the reaction from the outside is a great way to do it. I think my family went up there and talked to a lot of the organizations and spent time with them. It was a special night, real special night.”

Booker pledged $2.5 million to local charities by picking five groups each year over five years.

In 2019, he announced his first starting five members: Special Olympics Arizona, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, UMOM New Day Centers and Ability 360.

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