Who We Are

Our Heartbeat

In July of 2017 while attending a high academic basketball camp in Reading, Pennsylvania, John went into Sudden Cardiac Arrest. This was a direct result of an undetected disease he had called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, better known as HCM. The John Lee Foundation was founded to prevent similar tragedies in young athletes.

Our goal is to raise awareness about this silent disease, educate more individuals, provide more research that will lead to more accurate screenings for young athletes, and ultimately provide a cure. Though John is no longer here, we can work hard to prevent the same fate for other young high school athletes and their families.

 

The Challenge

HCM often goes undetected in current screening processes, and death can occur before any indication of the disease is present. It is the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young student-athletes. There is no mandatory requirement in high school sports to have a screening done prior to participation in sports. This needs to be changed!

With your support, we’re working to change this by:

  • Bringing awareness to parents, coaches and student-athletes.
  • Funding independent heart screenings for student-athletes.
  • Advocating for and funding further research in search of a cure.

Together we can raise awareness, provide screenings and work towards a cure.

 

Taking Action

Join us in one of our programs to learn more about this silent disease. Your involvement with the John Lee Foundation directly influences the longevity and quality of life for our youth. Get involved today!

Our Team

photo of angelina

Angelina Gibbs Essuman

Co-Founder

Angelina was a single mother to John Lee for 16 years. Every decision she made was always made with John in mind. They were best friends and did everything together. He’s even the one who introduced her to her now husband, Al, back in 2013. When John left this world, to say that Angelina was heartbroken would be an extreme understatement. Not only did she lose her son, she lost her best friend, her rock, her sense of purpose. Angelina’s biggest regret is that John wasn’t able to see his hard work and dedication pay off by fulfilling his dream of playing collegiate basketball while getting a high academic education. The only thing Angelina knew she had to do was to continue the legacy he started for himself by ensuring other families aren’t affected by such a tragic loss due to HCM, and that’s how the John Lee Foundation started. Angelina received her Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech and her MBA from the University of Florida. She is a former Atlanta Falcons cheerleader and WNBA Atlanta Dream Dancer. She is currently a Sr. Manager at Southwest Airlines.

Al Essuman

Co-Founder

Al was extremely active in summer travel basketball for 10 years as a coach and trainer for numerous teams in the Dallas Area. This is where he met John in 2013. Al became very involved in John’s life through mentoring and basketball, and the two quickly established a bond – strong enough to where John eventually introduced him to his mom, Angelina, and the two became married in 2016. Though John was a high academic student off the court, the one characteristic Al admired most about John was his constant desire to obtain more for himself. Al spent countless hours with John in the gym and in training to maximize his potential on the court. Al was determined to help John achieve his academic and basketball goals. The John Lee Foundation is very important to Al because not only will it continue the legacy that John has created for himself, but also help prevent such a loss to others through better screening detections and possibly a cure. Al received his Bachelors in both Economics and Sociology from the University of Houston. He is currently working as a Talent-Acquisition Recruiter for a small Technology staffing firm.

Rob Kennedy

Board Member

Rob Kennedy is President of Hoop Group, the nation’s largest and most prestigious grassroots basketball company dedicated to fulfilling the dreams for its over 30,000 student-athlete participants per year. Rob grew up in the business which was started 56 years ago by his parents, Bob and Patty Kennedy. Prior to running Hoop Group, Rob graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Political Science. He became an assistant coach at Monmouth University where he helped lead the Hawks to two NEC Championship appearances in four years. In addition to his work with Hoop Group, Rob is an Emmy award winning color commentator for ESPN. Rob is also active in promoting grassroots basketball having served as president of the American Basketball Camp Association. He has participated in multiple NCAA conferences and has been invited to speak to the NCAA executive committee at the Final 4. Rob and his wife, Gina, are the proud parents of Robbie, Erin, Liam and Sean. Rob met John and his family through his tragic death at camp. He was moved by John’s story and by the passion and commitment of Angelina and Albert. Rob has joined the board of the foundation to help promote its mission and to help educate families about HCM. It is Rob’s hope that John’s legacy lives on by helping others.