Karl Malone is a former power forward with the NBA Utah Jazz basketball team. Known as "The Mailman," the 6'9" Malone played for 18 seasons with the Jazz and a year with the L.A. Lakers. Before that, he played for Louisiana Tech and was also on the 1992 and 1996 Olympic gold medal teams.
Being basically a country boy at heart, Malone now owns a logging company in Arkansas. When he heard about the devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought to the Gulf Coast, he responded with the instinctive swiftness of a team player and brought his crew and equipment to Pascagoula, Miss. Once there, Malone's crew spent two weeks removing debris from homeowners' devastated yards.
"Everything about this just felt right," Malone told a reporter from USA Today. "My mom died two years ago, and in our last conversation she told me that one day I would have to step on a grand scale and help people. I knew this was it."
Malone and his crew put in 12-hour days and cleared a total of 114 yards. Despite their generosity and hard work, Malone's crew actually ran into resistance from some private contractors who thought he was cutting into their business, as well as officials from FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers.
"There was a lot of red tape, and I ain't got time for that," he told the reporter. "I saw devastation and people with nobody to turn to. So I found out that if you're going to do something good, just go ahead and do it."
When a Pascagoula department of public works official named Steve Mitchell learned about some of the bureaucratic difficulties Malone had with FEMA. Et al., he told the reporter: "If he got resistance, he didn't get it from us. I wish I had known about the trouble he had. I wish he were still here. Essentially, we just said 'bless his heart.'"