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Wolves' LaVine Helps Pay For New Cafeteria At St. Paul School For The Deaf

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is known for his high-flying, gravity-defying slam dunks.

When he won the NBA Dunk Contest this year, he put a portion of the prize money to very good use. WCCO's David McCoy was there Monday morning as LaVine got to see for the first time what made his gift possible.

It goes beyond a typical story about an athlete donating money. LaVine learned sign language in high school, and a few months ago he started volunteering at Metro Deaf School in St. Paul.

When he found out they badly needed a new kitchen, he used $10,000 he got from winning the Slam Dunk Contest and paid for it all. Who knew a dunk could do so much good.

"We've been, for five years, fundraising for our kitchen, trying to get this just renovated where it's more functional. And he said, 'We can make it happen, we'll figure it out,'" Susan Lane-Outlaw said.

LaVine returned on Monday to see the finished product.

"This is nice, a lot better than what it was. At least they can socialize and have their own meals now, that's the main thing, so it's gonna be cool," LaVine said.

But this is deeper than a one-time donation. LaVine has been here three times before, playing games and reading with the kids. It's about more than money. He used his interest in sign language to form a unique, meaningful connection with local kids.

"Well I think it's easy for any celebrity to do a one-day thing. You go in, you get a lot of media publicity, yay, I'm giving back, I'm doing, like, he comes numerous times with no media," Lane-Outlaw said.

"Every time he comes, he's like talking with the kids, he's interacting. But I think the biggest piece has been that he signs, Lane-Outlaw added.

"Yeah the first time I did it, I did a couple signs where I talked to them, where I spelled out their name -- I'm not fluent with it like I used to be -- I'm not the best like they are, sometimes they lose me. But just seeing like, oh wow, he can do this, is kinda cool," LaVine said.

"I think it's very nice, and it makes communication much easier for us with him," sixth grader Estrella Rayner said through a translator.

"You know if they look up to me and I can make their day brighter or something like that, is, I'm all for it, so I think it's really cool," LaVine said.

LaVine's donation covered a new refrigerator, sinks, cabinetry: The whole deal. Before this, the school had to cater in every meal.

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