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Top NBA prospect LaMelo Ball pledges month of salary to bushfire victims

Top NBA prospect LaMelo Ball pledges month of salary to bushfire victims
LaMelo Ball (L), the youngest of the Ball brothers, plays professional basketball in Australia, while Liangelo Ball (C) is a practice player in the NBA's G League and Lonzo Ball (R) plays for the New Orleans Pelicans. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 3 (UPI) -- LaMelo Ball -- one of the top prospects entering the 2020 NBA Draft -- has pledged to donate one month of his National Basketball League salary to help victims of Australia's bushfires.

The Illawarra Hawks, Ball's team in the Australian basketball league, announced his plan Thursday.

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"It's sad to see what is happening on the South Coast of Australia," Ball said in a news release. "People have lost their homes and everything they own. My parents taught me to help out wherever I can, so this is my way of helping out."

Nine people have died this week as a result of the fires. The fires are expected to continue throughout the weekend. A total of 18 people have died and numerous others remain unaccounted for this fire season in Australia.

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NBL teams have a $1.4 million salary cap. Ball is part of the league's Next Stars program, which gives players a $68,000 salary, an apartment, a vehicle and flights home during breaks in team activity.

The Hawks also are partnering with the Illawarra Mercury to raise money for the Salvation Army Disaster Appeal to help victims of the bushfires.

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Ball, 18, announced his intention to play for the Hawks in June. He played for a Lithuanian team in 2018, hampering his NCAA eligibility. Fellow top prospect R.J. Hampton also plays in the NBA, after signing with the New Zealand Breakers in May.

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Sources told ESPN Hampton was recently cleared to return to practice after sustaining a hip injury. Ball is out indefinitely and is in a walking boot and on crutches after picking up a bone bruise injury in his foot during a practice.

The Hawks battle Melbourne United at 1:30 a.m. EST Saturday in Wollongong, Australia. Ball is averaging 17 points, 7.5 rebounds and seven assists per game.

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