James Donaldson is running for Seattle City Council

James Donaldson in a July 2009 photo. JIM MABEL / CC BY-SA 3.0

Many former professional athletes, including NBA players, have run for public office. And now there’s another prospective politician to keep an eye on. Former NBA big man James Donaldson posted this message on Facebook on Friday:

10 years ago, I was running for the office of Mayor here in Seattle. I did pretty well, but came up a little short.

Now I’m running for Seattle City Council – District 7, and ballots go out next week for the August 6 primary.

If you live in my district, I need your vote. If you don’t live in my district… I need your contribution to my campaign to help push me to victory!

Please support and contribute at www.jamesdonaldsonteam.com

Others who held public office

Who are some other ex-NBA players who held public office in the United States?

Dave Bing served as the mayor of Detroit.

Kevin Johnson was the mayor of Sacramento.

Bill Bradley represented New Jersey as a U.S. senator.

Mo Udall, who suited up for the Denver Nuggets for one season, went on to have a long political career (U.S. House of Representatives; Arizona Democrat, 1961-91).

Terry Dehere served on the Jersey City (New Jersey) Board of Education. Before that, he was on the Jersey City Council from 2001-07.

Previous political pursuits

In 2008, James Donaldson first ran for Seattle City Council.

A year later, he entered the political ring as a mayoral candidate in Seattle.

Leadership position

In April 2010, Donaldson joined the College Success Foundation as its Tacoma, Washington, director.

A press release highlighted the role of the foundation: “The College Success Foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization formed to provide low-income and underserved students the scholarships, mentoring and educational supports necessary for them to attend the post-secondary institutions of their choice. It has awarded approximately6000 scholarships in the last decade.”

“James will provide leadership in the Tacoma community to double the number of Tacoma’s low-income students who graduate from high school and attend and graduate from college” said Bob Craves, the CEO and founder of College Success Foundation, in April 2010. “As the director of our Tacoma office, he will work closely with the Tacoma School District and other Tacoma community partners to benefit the youth of Tacoma.”

Donaldson, who turn 62 in August, has emerged as an advocate for raising public awareness about mental health while also seeking to help reduce the number of suicides in the United States.

Clearly, his own life experiences have played a part in his passion to make a difference. The Athletic published a lengthy feature about James Donaldson’s personal struggles and past suicidal thoughts, and how he wants to be a part of the solution.

Basketball career

The Seattle SuperSonics selected James Donaldson, a Washington State alum, with the 73rd overall pick (fourth round) in the 1979 Draft. He played for 3A Antoini Siena in Italy for a year before beginning his NBA career with Seattle in 1980.

The 7-foot-2 Donaldson averaged 8.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 975 regular-season games for the Sonics, Clippers, Mavericks, Knicks and Jazz. The old-school big man never attempted a 3-point shot in the NBA.

He played his final NBA game in 1995, then continued his career in Europe until 1999.

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