Clemente nominee Lowe wants focus on those being helped

September 15th, 2022

TORONTO -- The recognition itself is, of course, meaningful to . Just hearing his name mentioned in the same sentence as that of Hall of Fame player and humanitarian Roberto Clemente, Lowe said, is “an incredible honor.”

But Lowe does not want to shine the spotlight on himself as the Rays’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which is given annually to the player who best represents baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions on and off the field.

Instead, Lowe hopes that his nomination brings greater attention to the programs and foundations he and his wife, Madison, have worked to support since he established himself in the Majors. As soon as he signed a long-term contract extension with the Rays in March 2019, they started thinking about ways they could turn some of that guaranteed money into a positive impact on the Tampa Bay-area community.

“I'd rather people be talking about that than talking about me and Madison,” Lowe said earlier this week while sitting in the visitor's dugout at Rogers Centre. “I'd rather they talk about what we're doing and why we're doing it.”

The “what” and the “why” go hand in hand, for each cause the Lowes support is close to their hearts.

Three years ago, they created his “Home Runs for Hope” campaign to support the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. Every time he goes deep, Lowe and the Rays Baseball Foundation each donates $100 to the Crisis Center. They have raised more than $15,000 to date.

That cause is personal for Lowe. In 2017, he was having lunch with his grandparents when they were shocked to learn that they’d lost Lowe’s uncle to suicide. Initially reluctant to discuss it publicly, Lowe now strives to use his platform to destigmatize those conversations and raise mental health awareness.

“I kind of fell into that stigma that everybody has around it. I had somebody that was really affected by it, and I didn't want to talk about it. I wasn't sure how to talk about it, who to talk about it with, if my family would want me to talk about it,” Lowe said earlier this year. “That's where the Home Runs for Hope thing came into play in '19. I didn't want anybody to have to struggle with anything they were fighting anymore, and I wanted people to know it's OK to not be OK.”

Next, Lowe and Madison, a former college softball player, thought about ways to help get kids in the Tampa Bay area involved in baseball and softball. They wanted to promote the sports they love while also reaching out to the next generation of Rays fans. From that idea -- Madison’s brainchild, Lowe said -- came “Lowe’s Legends.”

The Lowes have provided special experiences and financial support to the area's youth baseball and softball teams through that program since 2019. They’ve hosted camps at Tropicana Field, invited players to Rays games and helped cover the cost of registration fees and equipment for kids whose families were hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Just stuff to really keep the community in love with baseball and keep growing the game,” Lowe said.

Over the past two years, the Lowes found another cause to throw their support behind. They did so by selecting the Baby Quest Foundation as their charity of choice to receive Lowe’s $7,500 Roberto Clemente Award donation.

They bounced a few ideas off each other as to where that grant money should go. But they felt a strong pull toward the Baby Quest Foundation, which helps provide financial assistance to those who cannot afford the high costs of infertility treatments.

Their connection to this cause is as personal as it gets, Lowe explained.

“The past two years, we've really been trying to start a family and had really, really bad luck,” Lowe said. “I dealt with the loss of a child, but I didn't feel anything that happened. … Knowing and standing on the sidelines, being helpless, seeing what [Madison] was going through kind of made it an easy decision for us that the grant money covers an [in vitro fertilization] treatment, or pretty close to an IVF treatment. That's something that we had to go through.”

On Aug. 9, Madison announced on Instagram that she and Lowe are expecting their first child, a boy, in February 2023. Below photos of her and Brandon, the caption read: “We prayed, we endured, and we are overjoyed.”

“I know just how excited we are and how happy we are to be able to start a family, and even if it is just one family to receive the grant and be able to start a family, it's something that is kind of impossible to put into words,” Lowe said. “Hopefully a year down the line, we hear somebody that is ultimately able to start a family that wasn’t going to be able to.”