Photo by Glenn James/Getty Images/NBA Photos

Photo by Glenn James/Getty Images/NBA Photos

Dallas’ favorite athlete happens to be our neighbor

No city worships football quite as hard as Dallas, but arguably our most beloved athlete isn’t known for touchdowns or rushing yards.

Dallas loves Dirk Nowitzki because he led the Mavericks’ 2011 NBA Championship run without bragging once. We admire how the 7-foot-tall German native refuses to leave the city, even though he’s taken several
substantial voluntary pay cuts. And we savor the limited glimpses into his personal life here in Preston Hollow, since he rarely talks about his wife, Jessica, or their three children.

In 2008, the Dallas icon became our neighbor, but he doesn’t have much time to relax there. Nowitzki’s dedicated to his namesake foundation, which focuses on improving children’s health, education and well-being.

Out of all of Dallas, how did you end up in Preston Hollow?
I love where we live. It’s close to all of the schools. It’s a great area, great neighbors, great houses, great lots. I used to live in Highland Park. I moved out of there, because I wanted a little more yard. We found what we were looking for.

How’d you choose the focus of your foundation, and why is it important to you?
I founded my foundation in 2001. Just traveling the world and seeing I was blessed and fortunate — not only now, but also growing up with two parents. They always took care of us. There’s a lot of families in this world who weren’t as fortunate, so I wanted to help wherever I could. We support projects around the area, but we’ve done some stuff overseas. We’ve found some projects to last 15, 16 years. We’re going to continue that work hopefully long after I’m done with my career.

This year, the Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic raised money for families who evacuated the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Harvey. (Photo by Kathy Tran)

This year, the Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Classic raised money for families who evacuated the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Harvey. (Photo by Kathy Tran)

What are your favorite accomplishments with the foundation?
There’s been some great little projects we’ve found. Sometimes it might be the small lacrosse after-school program that has 20 kids. There’s so many great volunteers out there that do amazing work, but they don’t get that recognition, or they’re struggling to help these kids. So to be able to help them stay alive with funding is a great feeling.

If you could play any celebrity in next year’s fundraising tennis classic, who would it be?
Well, we had a pretty good lineup the last few years. We had some amazing players. Andy Roddick came. We had John Isner last year, who was top 10 in the world. It’s been awesome. The support of not only the celebs who fly out but also the fans and sponsors has been amazing, so hopefully we can pull another off next year.

Michael Gruber, of “The Ticket,” grew up in your current home. We have to ask “Where Grubes at?” and how did that catchphrase come to be?
Grubes always used to tell the story that I was sleeping in his childhood bed. It was like a little toy car bed. He always said I took it. One day, someone asked me about it on Twitter, so I said “Where Grubes at?” That’s how that happened.

Interview edited for clarity.

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