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Miss DC USA 2010 Interviews NBA Champ John Salley on His Passion for a Healthier America

By MacKenzie Green, Miss District of Columbia USA 2010

When you think of a vegan, you may picture a waifish hippie. But maybe you should think of an almost-7-foot-tall retired NBA player with four championship rings.

John SalleyEven years off the hardwood, John Salley still dominates the room. Amid the excited chatter at a recent event at Sublime Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., you could tell that everyone was waiting to see Salley, who played with the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, among other teams. And when Salley stepped into the restaurant, you could feel the quiet confidence of a man who continues to make waves. His new passion is to make America healthier—one person at a time.

Salley teamed up with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) to be a part of the organization’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart—which can found online at He is also the star of PCRM’s “Block Diabetes” public service announcement.

“I knew the transition to going vegan was a hard thing. Kickstart helps get people on the right path,” said Salley. “I always say once you know better you do better.” And when Salley saw the Kickstart plan, he knew it would help people move toward doing better and becoming healthier. He cites his own vegan lifestyle as what helped him stay healthy while playing professional basketball, and what keeps him in good health now.

Salley is the health guru next door we all wish we had. He laughs while talking about helpingthree women at the department of motor vehicles in Los Angeles get on track with a vegan diet, all because the women asked his secret of why he looked so good. “People see the change, and they are able to make the change with the food they eat,” he said.

Salley also lends his expertise to professional athletes, actors, and members of the hip-hop community. James Jones of the Miami Heat is under the vegan tutelage of Salley—but what else would you expect from a man who wears Salley’s former number?

Salley’s desire to teach others about healthier living is rooted in a personal reason. The basketball champ’s father was a diabetic, and health issues plagued his family. Salley wanted to end the cycle of diabetes and cancer with in his own family, starting with himself. He saw that lifestyle changes could reduce the risk of these diseases.

Once he introduces his vegan lifestyle to others, he is one step closer to creating a new normal for everyone. “People realize they need to change, and there’s a need to re-educate America about food,” he explains.

And who better to lead the fight for better diets than one of the healthiest athletes in professional sports?

MacKenzie Green is a freelance journalist, a recent graduate of the University of Miami, and Miss District of Columbia USA 2010.

MacKenzie Green

PCRM Online, March 2011

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