Is Washington Keeping Usher From the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Singer Usher has been so busy with his volunteering that he has ignored his hoops team.

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

He campaigned for Barack Obama, just teamed with Ted Turner's effort to curb malaria in Africa, and is raising his 15-month-old baby boy, Usher Raymond V, so megastar Usher Raymond IV hasn't had much time left over for his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. In fact, the co-owner has already missed two playoff games, prompting team star LeBron James to mock him. "I ran into LeBron, and he asked, 'Are you still part of this team?'" Usher told us today.

This week he had an excuse. Ted Turner is to announce that Usher has joined the United Nations Foundation's bid to send thousands of bed nets to African towns afflicted by malaria, which is carried by mosquitoes. With World Malaria Day on Saturday, the teaming is expected to draw new attention to a campaign that has already been joined by churches and volunteer groups around the nation.

"Every thirty seconds, a child dies from malaria in Africa," says Usher, in Washington for meetings with the United Nations. "We have a chance to lead the change."

Usher has a long record of volunteerism and mentoring. His New Look foundation mentors youths around the nation. With Turner and the United Nations, he sees his efforts going global. "There is so much more potential, and the United Nations is open to service on a global scale, and I hope to continue to bring ideas," he told us. We will have more on his efforts and teaming with the U.N. and White House in the U.S. News Weekly digital edition.

Corrected on 4/23/09: Usher Raymond says a child dies from malaria every 30 seconds. And his full name is Usher Raymond IV.