Braves outfielder Michael Harris helping those affected by Jackson water crisis

OAKLAND, Calif. — Recently, Michael Harris saw something about the water crisis in Jackson, Miss. Harris is with the Braves now, but he spent a couple of months in Jackson while playing at Double-A and considers the city a second home.

“The people there,” Harris said of why it felt like home. “They just come out and support, treat you like their own. There’s really no hatred over there. It’s just a good place. I didn’t really have any problems there. I felt comfortable there.”

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The 21-year-old Harris has stepped up to help Jackson: He is donating $23,000 to help those affected by the crisis. He hopes most of his money goes toward the city’s youth, whether that be the school system or those who are less fortunate.

“Giving back is something I always wanted to do,” Harris said. “I saw they were struggling with something that’s really important – water. You need water to pretty much do anything – stay clean, stay healthy.”

In August, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency for Jackson’s water system. According to an article by The Associated Press, Jackson “faces water-system problems it can’t afford to fix.” Low water pressure left some residents unable to take showers or flush toilets, according to the article. People who had water flowing from the tap were told to boil it to kill bacteria.

Jackson students were not in school for a period of time. Some restaurants have closed. The workforce has been heavily impacted by the water crisis.

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Harris said he can only imagine what Jackson residents must be going through. A few years ago, Harris took a trip to Mexico and stayed at an area with water problems. He remembers using water from water bottles to brush his teeth. “I forgot how we showered,” he said, “but it probably wasn’t the cleanest.”

The difficult part: ensuring that the money goes to the correct place. Harris hopes it will help the youth “because they’re probably the ones struggling the most.”

Harris still is in touch with Double-A Mississippi teammates. His father, also Michael Harris, played college baseball at Alcorn State in Mississippi. Before MLB required teams to provide housing for minor leaguers, the younger Harris was going to live with one of his father’s old college roommates in Jackson for the Double-A season. The community means a lot to the Braves outfielder.

“Just giving back is probably one of the things that I could do,” Michael Harris II said.

Harris is working with the Braves Foundation, which does work in the community. Harris’ side and the Braves Foundation have talked with Chick-fil-A about providing lunches to certain schools. They have had discussions with Delta about possibly donating excess travel kits to Jackson. T-Mobile has joined the cause.

In August, Harris signed an eight-year, $72 million contract extension with the Braves. He might be the front-runner for National League Rookie of the Year. As talented as he is on the field, his push to help Jackson off of it is an example of his kindness and humility – traits you often hear about him.

As a major leaguer, and someone who appears to be a future star, Harris has gained fame and notoriety. HIs popularity should only grow from here.

A platform comes with all of that, and Harris is grateful it allows him to give back.

“It definitely means a lot because you never know what people are going through or how they’re living in different areas,” Harris said. “I know I’m living a pretty good life right now, so I want everybody else to experience the same thing.”