“I just want to see Leeds do well and thrive.”
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Charles Barkley Redmont Vodka
Credit: Redmont Vodka

Charles Barkley was known for years for his superb skills in the power forward position on the hard court. His NBA career led the former Auburn Tiger to play with the 76ers, the Suns, the Rockets, and to land a spot on that 1992 Olympic squad deemed "The Dream Team." After retiring from playing the game, Barkley hasn't gone far. He remains a fixture in the broadcast booth for TNT and Turner Sports sharing his often hilarious, sometimes controversial, but always brutally honest take on the game he loves. 

These days, Barkley may be just as well known for his acts of kindness away from the basketball court. He's made a concentrated effort to use his fortune for good. Recently he announced he was donating $1 million dollars to Spelman College in Atlanta, marking the sixth major donation he's made to an HBCU. Sir Charles also made a point to give back to educators in his hometown of Leeds, Alabama. In May 2021, officials from Leeds School System announced on Facebook that not only has Barkley quietly provided over three million dollars in scholarships to Leeds graduates over the years, but when the pandemic hit, he arranged for students to receive laptops and wifi hotspots, got the schools proper cleaning supplies, and then he gifted each and every employee of the school system $1000. 

Although Barkley no longer lives in Alabama, Leeds and the entire state of Alabama remain very important to him. He's determined to step in and lift up his home state in any way that he can. When Birmingham hosted the international sports competition, The World Games in July, Barkley served as a co-chair and an ambassador for the games. He spoke to Southern Living about the experience and his take was more about the long term impact. 

"For me it was really just more about the state of Alabama. I hope everybody enjoyed it. Not only that, I'm hoping it had a great economic impact. But not only that, there's gonna be people who come back here again, and that's what's gonna be special. Because when I played in the Olympics in '92, I went to Barcelona probably another 20 times[after]. I had such a good time. And so I'm pretty sure they had a great time in Birmingham and some of those people are going to keep coming back forever."

That desire to see Alabama's economy thrive was also behind his decision to become a majority owner in Birmingham based, Redmont Vodka. The basketball player turned businessman wanted to invest into an Alabama company and this small batch vodka distillery, the first legal distillery in Birmingham since prohibition, turned out to be a great match.  We caught up with Barkley at an event launching the partnership between Redmont Vodka and Logan's Roadhouse, where he shared, "I'm a vodka splash of cranberry guy. I love vodka. I really think our product is really good or I wouldn't have bought the company." 

The party was to mark the start of Logan's Roadhouse carrying the Birmingham brand in all of their locations nationwide. But celebrating this occasion in the Leeds, Alabama, outpost of the nationwide chain was really special to Barkley. It's the very same Logan's location Barkley remembers his mother taking him to as a kid. "This is my hometown and to do an event here, and I want to thank Logans for picking up the vodka, but to do an event in Leeds makes it even more special," he said. "This is my hometown. Means a lot to me…  I just want to see Leeds do well and thrive."