Adonal Foyle

by Jon Mandle on March 8, 2006

Adonal Foyle is my (adopted) brother. (Here or here, but turn down your speakers first.) He came to live with my parents and go to high school when I was already away at graduate school. Then he attended Colgate before going on to play for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. This is his ninth year with the team. In 2001, he founded an organization called Democracy Matters that is devoted to organizing college students around the issue of campaign finance reform. They now have chapters on over 80 campuses. The focus on campaign finance allows them to bring together many different issues, and there is a broader goal of helping students learn to be politically engaged. It’s really quite a great group.

C-Span showed an interview with him the other day. (It was up against the Oscars – I haven’t seen the ratings.) He talks about growing up on a very small island; life in the NBA; founding Democracy Matters; poetry; politics; his family; money; and lots more. Adonal says that he did the interview after a long flight, and he was completely exhausted and didn’t really know what he was saying. He finished it and thought he did horribly. In fact, he was very open and unselfconscious (for example, in public he’s usually much more guarded about talking about the abuse he suffered as a child). I think it came off really well. It’s now available on-line. And, yes, that’s my daughter sitting on my mother’s lap in the picture at 20:30 – thanks for asking.

{ 1 trackback }

Crooked Timber » » March Madness
03.15.06 at 9:03 am



Cryptic Ned 03.08.06 at 9:44 am


I didn’t realize he’d been on the Warriors for his whole career. It seems like the rare thoughtful pro sports player is much more likely to want to stay in one place during his career, rather than compete for the highest salaries.


Todd 03.08.06 at 11:56 am

That’s awesome. I was just trying to convince a friend to add Foyle to his fantasy basketball team, because he’s hurting for rebounds. I personally have been a huge fan since this Eric Neel piece.


Mark Schmitt 03.08.06 at 12:42 pm

Wonderful post. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to watch Democracy Matters develop and really catch on on campuses. It’s such a wonderful model for what an athlete can do that’s real and aims for big structural change, vs. feel-good philanthropy.


Slocum 03.08.06 at 5:10 pm

Sounds like a great guy. If only his organization were fighting for something other than campaign finance reform–which has, in my view, resulted in appalling, indefensible restrictions on freedom of political speech (Laws against mentioning candidates by name?!? Near an election?!? WTF?!? And that’s not to mention the possibility of regulating political speech on blogs).


Jon Mandle 03.08.06 at 8:18 pm

Thanks, Todd – I had forgotten about that piece.
Slocum – Adonal doesn’t necessarily support a proposal just because it is called “campaign finance reform”. Democracy Matters doesn’t have a party line that all members must adhere to. In fact, there is real disagreement among members about what kinds of reform efforts to support. Nonetheless, it’s fair to say that their typical focus is on promoting “clean elections” in which candidates voluntarily limit private donations in exchange for public support. There are obviously many possible variations, and I’d suggest looking at the Democracy Matters website for lots more information and discussion of some of these proposals.


a fan 03.08.06 at 8:27 pm

Wow is right. What an intelligent, fun, interesting, talented man. Years ago I was fortunate enough to meet Jon and Adonal socially when they were in the bay area. Unfortunately for me I didn’t know what extraordinary individuals Jon and Adonel are. I regret that I didn’t get to talk with them more.

Jon said something like, “I’d like you to meet my brother” and introduced 6’9″ Adonal. I thought he was pulling my leg. They must take secret delight in bursting people’s preconceptions.

[BTW, that’s a very cool AJAX-y posting tool on crooked timber!]


Cannoneo 03.09.06 at 12:57 pm

Whoah, I’m disoriented; in a matter of minutes, a set of statistics has been replaced by not only a live human being, but a paragon of thoughtful virtue. Until now, Adonal Foyle existed in my mind as that center from Colgate who I had a frustrating fling with early this fantasy season. Frustrating because his game is not stat-driven – he’s good enough to start on many NBA teams, but doesn’t pile up numbers. He plays as part of a team and does those famous intangibles. Little did I know his intangibles go far beyond setting screens, helping out weak side, and making good outlet passes.


ArC 03.10.06 at 5:27 am

I remember reading a few years ago how well thought out Adonal Foyle’s stance was on the Iraq war, but I didn’t realize just how politically active he was. A huge and very welcome contrast to certain other players *cough* who resolutely practice neutrality strictly to maintain maximum marketability…

(also, I’m very glad C-Span makes transcripts. I hate watching or listening to clips if a transcript is available.)


ArC 03.10.06 at 5:46 am

I guess I should say in fairness, as Foyle mentions, that the Nash backlash back in what, 2003, was astounding and it’s easy to understand why players would shy away from politics after seeing that.

(tangentially, I’m sadly quite frequently surprised at how fast and vicious politics can get – Janet Jackson’s Superbowl flap, GTA’s “Hot Coffee” scandal – I thought for sure both of those would die down after a day or two.)


George 03.10.06 at 10:18 pm

Adonal also volunteers at many local educational events in Oakland. Such as family reading night, put on by my former employer, the Oakland Parents Literacy Project,

That’s me planting flowers.

Adonal really gets it.



Comments on this entry are closed.