Ethan’s predisposition toward advocacy, social enterprise, global health, and self-empowerment truly took shape in 2002, when he, with a portion of his winnings from Survivor: Africa, co-founded Grassroot Soccer, a first-of-its-kind NGO using the sport to teach young people self-reliance and critical life skills, such as HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, for the betterment of at-risk communities.
It was the realization of an idea that first came to light while playing soccer professionally in Zimbabwe, where he first came face- to-face with the toll and scale of the AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa. Since inception, the international organization has scaled up to 60 countries in Africa and worldwide, graduated 2.9 millions youth, and worked with scores of public- and private-sector partners. Ever the tireless and creative promoter, Ethan in 2008 did nothing short of dribble a soccer ball 600 miles on his own — Boston to Washington, DC — as a campaign to drum up visibility, awareness, and support.
Ethan’s work with Grassroot Soccer and in the field of public health earned him a place on US Soccer Foundation’s Most lmpactful People list for 2017. In 2015 BeyondSport named Ethan to their 50 Most Influential People—a list which, that year, also included Michelle Obama, Desmond Tutu, David Beckham, Muhammad Ali, and Billie Jean King.