Many Canadians spent the weekend celebrating the Toronto Raptors’ victory in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday.

But what you may not know is there’s another reason to celebrate this team. In addition to being a key piece of the Raptors lineup, 7’1″ centre Marc Gasol is also an advocate for the protection of refugees and migrants.

Driven by a sense of anger at the senseless suffering of migrants trying to escape violence and flee to Europe across the Mediterranean, Gasol spent last summer participating in rescue operations aboard the Open Arms Proactiva, a migrant rescue vessel.

Gasol told The Guardian one particularly harrowing story of the rescue of a woman left clinging to a piece of wood for 48 hours in the open sea:

“There were pieces of wood and clothes floating in the water. Then there was that woman, with her elbows resting on a wooden beam. Her eyes were lost in the void. She was weak and in shock. She had been clinging to that piece of wood with her last bit of strength and had remained that way for 48 hours. I thought of this woman, of her strength. And I felt anger.”

While volunteers like Gasol work to save lives, right-wing politicians around the world are trying to turn people against vulnerable migrants and close their borders for political gain.

Gasol doesn’t hold back when discussing the refusal of politicians to protect the most vulnerable:

“I cannot understand how anyone can turn away from these people who are dying at sea. How can we pretend it isn’t happening? Before being an athlete, I’m a person, a human being, like the ones Open Arms are saving every day. We must work so that these tragedies never happen again. We are all responsible.”

Helping to bring the Raptors to their first NBA finals in franchise history is a major achievement. But Gasol’s off court work helping the world’s most vulnerable people is what makes him a real hero.