Andre Agassi

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Andre Agassi : biography

29 April 1970 –

Video

  • Wimbledon 2000 Semi-Final – Agassi vs. Rafter (2003) Starring: Andre Agassi, Patrick Rafter; Standing Room Only, DVD Release Date: 16 August 2005, Run Time: 213 minutes, .
  • Charlie Rose, Inc., DVD Release Date: 15 August 2006, Run Time: 57 minutes.
  • Wimbledon: The Record Breakers (2005) Starring: Andre Agassi, Boris Becker; Standing Room Only, DVD Release Date: 16 August 2005, Run Time: 52 minutes, .

Professional awards

  • ITF World Champion: 1999.
  • ATP Player of the Year: 1999.
  • ATP Most Improved Player: 1988

1970–1985: Early life

Agassi was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, to Emmanuel "Mike" Agassi and Elizabeth "Betty" Agassi (née Dudley). His father, a former Olympic boxer for Iran, is of Armenian descent. Andre Agassi’s mother, Betty, is a breast cancer survivor. He has three older siblings – Rita (last wife to Pancho Gonzales), Philip and Tami.

In a passage from the book Open, Agassi details how his father made him play a match for money with football legend Jim Brown, in 1979, when Agassi was 9 years old. Brown was at a Vegas tennis club complaining to the owner about a money match that was canceled. Agassi’s father stepped in and told Brown that he could play his son and he would put up his house for the wager. Brown countered with a $10,000 bet, but after he was warned by the club owner not to take the bet because he would lose and be embarrassed, Brown agreed with Mike Agassi that they would set the amount after he and Andre played two sets. Brown lost those sets, 3–6, 3–6, declined the 10K wager, and offered to play the third set for $500. He lost 2–6.

At age 13, Andre was sent to Nick Bollettieri’s Tennis Academy in Florida. He was meant to stay for only 3 months because that was all his father could afford. After thirty minutes of watching Agassi play, Bollettieri called Mike and said: "Take your check back. He’s here for free," claiming that Agassi had more natural talent than anyone else he had seen. Agassi dropped out of school in the ninth grade.

Notes

Philanthropy

Agassi founded the Andre Agassi Charitable Association in 1994, which assists Las Vegas’ young people. He was awarded the ATP Arthur Ashe Humanitarian award in 1995 for his efforts to help disadvantaged youth. He is regularly cited as the most charitable and socially involved player in professional tennis. It has also been claimed that he may be the most charitable athlete of his generation.

Agassi’s charities help in assisting children reach their athletic potential. His Boys & Girls Club sees 2,000 children throughout the year and boasts a world-class junior tennis team. It also has a basketball program (the Agassi Stars) and a rigorous system that encourages a mix of academics and athletics.

In 2001, Agassi opened the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, a tuition-free charter school for at-risk children in the area. In 2009, the graduating class had 100 percent graduation rate and expected a 100 percent college acceptance rate. Among other child-related programs that Agassi supports through his Andre Agassi Charitable Foundation is Clark County’s only residential facility for abused and neglected children, Child Haven. In 1997, Agassi donated funding to Child Haven for a six-room classroom building now named the Agassi Center for Education. His foundation also provided $720,000 to assist in the building of the Andre Agassi Cottage for Medically Fragile Children. This 20-bed facility opened in December 2001, and accommodates developmentally delayed or handicapped children and children quarantined for infectious diseases.

In 2007 Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Warrick Dunn, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning and Cal Ripken, Jr. founded the charity Athletes for Hope, which helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes and aims to inspire all people to volunteer and support their communities.