This month, we sat down with Jason Thompson* for our First Friday interview. If you haven’t heard of this South Jersey native, it may be because he’s been around the world playing professional basketball. In addition, Jason is a philanthropist, founding the Jason Thompson Foundation in 2011.
With his foundation’s first black tie Summer Soiree right around the corner, we’re excited to share all of the event’s details and how to get involved. Learn more about his background, the foundation’s mission and inspiration, as well as why he loves Philly.
Philly PR Girl (PPRG): Let’s start from the beginning. Tell us about your journey through basketball and creating a non-profit organization.
Jason Thompson (JT): Basketball has always been a part of my life. I’ve been playing professionally since 2007—eight years with the NBA plus four years (and counting) with an international team. While playing for the NBA, I realized I had a platform to advocate for something meaningful to me. During my second season, my 25-year-old cousin and fellow athlete lost her life to a heart-related disease known as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). That’s when the Jason Thompson Foundation was born.
PPRG: It’s inspiring to hear the good that came out of such a tragic situation. What is the mission of The Jason Thompson Foundation, and how can people get involved?
JT: My foundation focuses on raising awareness for heart disease in athletes, children and young adults. Our passion is making the world a healthier place, aiming to teach children the importance of living a healthy life at a young age. We have numerous events throughout the year that continuously working to drive awareness in the fight against heart disease. Through meeting so many different people at events, I’ve realized heart health affects so many homes throughout this country. This has made our support group that much stronger.
PPRG: As a South Jersey native, what significance does hosting the Summer Soiree close to home have?
JT: Being from Mount Laurel, NJ is so important to me, both on and off the court. My family is my number one support system and having them so close is such a blessing. My foundation is not only for my cousin Tiffany, who passed from HCM, but also for my family. This is me giving back to my community to thank them for what they’ve given to me throughout my entire life.
PPRG: When you’re not practicing for your next big game or raising awareness for a good cause, where are some of your go-to spots in Philadelphia?
JT: When I was a rookie in the NBA, my teammates and I would always eat at Benihana. Any city we went to for a game, we’d be going to Benihana if they had one. Because of this, I greatly enjoy Japanese food. In Philadelphia, namely Buddakan, Sampan, and Double Knot are some of my favorite restaurants. I also love a nice rooftop with a view and chill vibes, making Stratus Lounge and Attico some of me go-to’s.
PPRG: What career would you be pursuing if you weren’t playing basketball?
JT: Basketball will always be a part of my life. If I weren’t playing, I might be coaching. Previously, I’ve coached for different camps and programs and really enjoyed teaching others this amazing game. Though, since I graduated with a degree in Broadcast Communications, I would most likely pursue a career in TV/radio.
* Jason Thompson is a client of Philly PR Girl.