How Nick Kyrgios' Raw Authenticity Started A Bushfire Donation Chain Reaction In Sport
The bad boy of tennis has emerged as a voice of hope in a time Australians desperately need it.
When it comes to sporting role models, Nick Kyrgios wouldn’t rate a mention in the same breath as the likes of Ash Barty, Dylan Alcott and Roger Federer -- but this week, he has become an unlikely leader.
Kyrgios has always worn his heart on his sleeve, although more often than not, it has landed him in trouble. But now, his confidence to speak up could help change lives.
With the country ablaze on the first day of the new year, he took to Twitter to put pressure on Tennis Australia, asking them to host an exhibition match ahead of the Australian Open to raise money for those affected by the bushfire.
Just a day later, Tennis Australia said it was working on it. Now, 'Rally for Relief' will be held on January 15, featuring some of the biggest stars in the game.
Kyrgios then inspired other athletes to dig into their own pockets by announcing he will "be kicking off support" by pledging $200 for every ace he hits during the Australian summer of tennis.
His initiative instantly created a chain reaction on social media within the sporting community.
Tennis peers Sam Stosur, Alex De Minaur, John Millman and Dylan Alcott joined his crusade, prompting Tennis Australia take their fundraising efforts to another level with 'Aces for Relief'.
Ash Barty has also generously offered her prize money from the upcoming Brisbane International. That's $360,000 if she takes out the tournament.
Big Bash cricket master blasters Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell and D’arcy Short have given themselves an extra incentive to clear the boundary rope, after promising $250 for every six they smash throughout the tournament.
The Australian Test bowling cartel, --Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon -- have also pledged to donate $1000 for every wicket they take in the third Test against New Zealand at the SCG.
Kyrgios' gesture even touched American NBL import and predicted NBA number one draft pick, LaMelo Ball, who sacrificed a month of his NBL salary to help. Champion jockeys Tommy Berry and Damian Lane will race for bushfire victims.
And fresh announcements are being made daily.
In his opening match of the ATP Cup, Kyrgios fired 20 aces to make himself $4000 poorer financially, but it’s clear how much richer he feels when he’s doing good for others.
He said all he could think about during the match was the bushfires, breaking down in tears while discussing his home town of Canberra -- which this week has been choking on the worst air quality in the world.
Kyrgios operates on pure emotion and instinct. On court, this can be his undoing. He’s clashed with opponents, fans and officials. While a prodigious talent, tennis has never consumed his life.
He once said the French Open “sucks”. This is all so hard for we mere mortals to comprehend.
Despite his faults, this week Kyrgios has not only shown political leaders the power of raw authenticity, but also what he is capable of when he puts his heart and mind to something.
He was genuine when he said he “doesn’t care about the praise” because the bushfires are “a real thing… it’s bigger than tennis”.
Perhaps it’s simply a purpose he’s been looking for all along? And with a big summer of tennis ahead ... hopefully we will see the best version of Kyrgios now he is fighting for something greater than himself.