Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James wins PBWA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

NEW YORK — Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James has won the 2016-17 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award as selected by the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA).  The honor, named after the NBA’s second commissioner, is presented annually by the PBWA to a player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

James was one of five finalists for the award, along with New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph.  The finalists were chosen by a committee of PBWA members from a list of 26 nominees submitted by NBA teams.  The winner was determined by a vote of the entire PBWA, which is composed of approximately 200 writers and editors who cover the NBA on a regular basis for newspapers, online outlets and magazines.   

The 32-year-old James is being honored for improving the educational opportunities of disadvantaged youth in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and creating long-term change in his community.  More than 1,100 at-risk students have benefited from programs through the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF), which motivates children to stay in school and attend college.

“LeBron James’ efforts to help young people are exemplary,” said PBWA President Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.  “He is making a difference, and so are the other 25 people who were nominated for this award.”                

James takes an active role in mentoring LJFF students, writing them letters, calling their homes and rewarding them with tickets to Cavaliers games.  He also buys groceries for the students and their families, supplies school uniforms and arranges outings so that the children can be exposed to new experiences.  His efforts include an annual “Family Reunion,” the most recent of which featured James hosting more than 5,000 students and family members at a local amusement park.  

This season, the LJFF announced a partnership with Akron Public Schools to create a new public school called the I PROMISE School tailored to meet the needs of the students in his program and their families.  James also established the I PROMISE Institute at the University of Akron, which will provide around-the-clock support to LJFF students when they begin pursuing four-year degrees.  The institute further strengthens the relationship between James and the university and follows a joint announcement in 2015 that pledged full college scholarships for qualifying students enrolled in his mentorship program.

The LJFF stresses the importance of giving back to communities.  In February, James brought 23 high school students from Akron that serve as mentors in his foundation to New Orleans for NBA All-Star 2017, where they rebuilt a home damaged by Hurricane Katrina and assisted in tornado relief efforts.     

Below is the list of all-time winners of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award:

ALL-TIME NBA J. WALTER KENNEDY CITIZENSHIP AWARD WINNERS

Season   Winner, Team
1974-75 Wes Unseld, Washington
1975-76 Slick Watts, Seattle
1976-77 Dave Bing, Washington
1977-78 Bob Lanier, Detroit
1978-79 Calvin Murphy, Houston
1979-80 Austin Carr, Cleveland
1980-81 Mike Glenn, New York
1981-82 Kent Benson, Detroit
1982-83 Julius Erving, Philadelphia
1983-84 Frank Layden, Utah
1984-85 Dan Issel, Denver
1985-86 Michael Cooper, L.A. Lakers, Rory Sparrow, New York
1986-87 Isiah Thomas, Detroit
1987-88 Alex English, Denver
1988-89 Thurl Bailey, Utah
1989-90 Doc Rivers, Atlanta
1990-91 Kevin Johnson, Phoenix
1991-92 Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers
1992-93 Terry Porter, Portland
1993-94 Joe Dumars, Detroit                                     
1994-95 Joe O’Toole, Atlanta                                                        
1995-96 Chris Dudley, Portland
1996-97 P.J. Brown, Miami
1997-98 Steve Smith, Atlanta
1998-99 Brian Grant, Portland
1999-00 Vlade Divac, Sacramento
2000-01 Dikembe Mutombo, Philadelphia
2001-02 Alonzo Mourning, Miami
2002-03 David Robinson, San Antonio
2003-04 Reggie Miller, Indiana
2004-05 Eric Snow, Cleveland
2005-06 Kevin Garnett, Minnesota
2006-07 Steve Nash, Phoenix
2007-08 Chauncey Billups, Detroit
2008-09 Dikembe Mutombo, Houston
2009-10 Samuel Dalembert, Philadelphia
2010-11 Metta World Peace, L.A. Lakers
2011-12 Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers
2012-13 Kenneth Faried, Denver
2013-14 Luol Deng, Cleveland
2014-15 Joakim Noah, Chicago
2015-16 Wayne Ellington, Brooklyn
2016-17 LeBron James, Cleveland

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