I'll repeat it over, and over again. There's just something about the fabulous world of sports that really tugs our heart strings. Beyond the intensity, hard work, dedication, persistence, and teamwork, players involvement within their communities off the court or off the field, is truly enchanting.
Each year the NBA crowns one player "J.Walter Kennedy Citizens" award for citizenship. The award presentation has been a three-decade long tradition in professional basketball, and according to ESPN.com stands for "outstanding service and dedication to the community."
The earned honor isn't just a players race either. Coaches, trainers, and team facilitators are among those taken into consideration for individual contributions to the community over a years time. This fan-tabulous honor off the court is selected via the Professional Basketball Writers Association. Approximately 150 sportswriter-gurus vote for their selection based off nominations from the PBWA. The NBA player, coach, or trainer with the most votes, earns the prestigious title.
The award was named after James Walter Kennedy, who was the second commissioner of the NBA. Kennedy was an instrumental part of the Special Olympics and National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He believed in serving within ones community above all other things, and thus, the award was named after him, to honor those who go above-and-beyond the call of duty. Kennedy passed of Cancer in 1977, but with a memorial service filled with players and dignitaries, and an award in his name, he left the world truly honored for his lifelong work and dedication.
Suffice to say, it's a huge honor to win the James Walter Kennedy award. Thus far, the Detroit Pistons (players and organization) have made the most impact on their community, having won five awards. Kevin Garnett won the award in 2006 after donating $1.2 million for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Other players who've won this prestigious award include NBA greats: Steve Nash, Magic Johnson, and Alonzo Mourning.
The 2010 award recipient is Samuel Dalembert from the Philadelphia 76ers. Dalembert is of Haitian heritage. In fact, he was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and lived there for fourteen years before moving to Montreal. After the Haiti Earthquake, Dalembert traveled to his home country to aid in the relief efforts and personally council those devastated by the quake. In addition to his personal time and involvement with Haiti Relief, he pledged $100,000 to UNIFCEF.
This award truly comes well deserved. We'll continue to root for Samuel, on and off the court. He is the true definition of role model, and with more players like him, our world becomes a much brighter place. Samuel Dalembert sets an extraordinary example for all of us to live by.
Birthdate: May 10, 1981
Hometown: Port-au-Prince, Haiti
College: Seton Hall
Team: Drafted in the first round, 26th pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001. He is still with the team.
Awards Won: 2010 Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award
Height: 6 ft 11 inches, Weight: 250 lbs