AMES, IOWA — Monte Morris has dished out nearly 500 assists during his Iowa State career, but maybe none have been as meaningful as the act he helped facilitate outside Hilton Coliseum on Thursday morning.
In an effort to raise awareness for the water contamination crisis in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, which has left water undrinkable for thousands, Morris has in recent weeks taken to social media and interviews to raise awareness. Those actions ultimately caught the attention of Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker.
Thursday, 11 Hy-Vee semitrailers filled with water — six holding water gallons and five containing bottled water — lined up in Ames before departing for Flint, where the water will be donated in honor of Morris.
“This right here is big time,” Morris said in front of one truck. “I wish I could drive with the trucks up there and hand them out to the people down there in Flint that really need the water. It’s a rough time right now and I think doing this just shows I’m all in for my city Flint, Michigan, and this is what I can do right now to help.”
Morris, who grew up in Flint and still has friends and family in the area, talks to his mother, Latonia Morris, every night. While she downplays her situation, Monte has seen the discolored water and thinks often about the young children who shower with bottled water or have drank the lead-contaminated water.
Latonia planned to leave work to greet the trucks in Flint.
“My mom tries to be so tough,” Morris said. “She wants me to stay focused on basketball, so she really doesn’t tell me if she was really struggling or not. But I know it’s rough back home. The water is coming out orange-ish. You can’t really put words behind that.”
“My pain is for, of course my family and my friends, but really the young ones growing up. Playing outside and having to come back in and drink the sink water and if they can’t they’re wondering why they can’t do it. It just hurts me to see kids go through that.”
That’s what made seeing the 11 trucks lined up Thursday outside Hilton Coliseum so special for Morris as he dished out yet another assist.
“It brought a lot of tears to my eyes because nobody wants their city to be like that,” Morris said with some pause. “It’s just hard to talk about honestly. I would have never imagined 11 trucks headed up there. I’m appreciative and I’m very blessed to be here. A kid from Flint, you don’t see that every day.”