Charles Barkley has a reputation for being among the more generous sports media celebrities in the business. On a recent episode of his podcast with Ernie Johnson, "The Steam Room," he reaffirmed this notion. Barkley who, to our knowledge, most certainly cannot play the drums, said he was willing and vowing to donate 50 drum sets to 50 schools in 50 states.
How'd we get here?
There's a talented rock drummer named Harry Miree, who is a touring and studio musician, in addition to being someone with a pretty entertaining YouTube channel. Miree, who is from Alabama and a longtime Barkley fan, called into the show because he -- like Barkley's podcast -- is up for a Webby Award for a hilarious and insightful short he did on "A Day in the Life of a Road Musician."
"Ever since I was a young concert-going dude I dreamed of making this exposé about the backstage life," Miree told CBS Sports. "I'd go to see Green Day, Metallica, and Dave Matthews Band in these arenas, and I'd just stare at all those bearded monks with cargo shorts and tattoos and walkie talkies coming and going from that alternate universe behind the stage. What's happening on the other side of that fence? Girls? Nerf gun fights? Responsible moderate use of alcohol? So by the time my it was my turn on the Rascal Flatts tour in the Summer of '19, the script basically wrote itself."
Since the "The Steam Room" and Miree were up for separate Webbys in separate categories, Miree wanted to reach out to his fellow Alabaman and share his benevolent idea. Miree decided he was giving back no matter what: he's now committed to donating 50 kits to 50 schools, win or lose. He learned to play thanks to a donated drum set at his school some 20-plus years ago, and it's pay-it-forward time.
When he appeared on the Steam Room, Barkley decided to match the donations -- if Miree won.
This is the kind of philanthropy and generosity we can get behind. Knowing Barkley -- who, by the by, has apparently fixed his golf swing -- he might follow through on this win or lose, too. A great cause. The world could always use more drummers.
"I'm not particularly motivated by accolades, but if this is an opportunity for a bunch of future musicians to benefit, now I can engage it fully," Miree said. "I still can't believe I ever got to tour at this level, let alone feel the rush of playing the drums at all. If I hadn't gone to a school with a donated drum set, who knows what I'd have spent my restless teenage years obsessing over instead? So if this Webby nomination is the world's way of saying, 'We value the noise you make,' then I want as many kids as possible to have access to the same luck I had as a kid, which not many do because of the underfunded arts programs in our schools here."
The next Dave Grohl, Carter Beauford or Travis Barker could be out there right now, and this could help them realize it. Voting is happening now at bit.ly/dudevote, and here's the video that made it all possible to begin with.