Every year the Professional Basketball Writers Association award the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award to the player, coach or trainer who has displayed outstanding services and dedication to the community. In 2013-14, the individual who has shown such dedication is Cleveland Cavaliers Small Forward Luol Deng.
The 10th year veteran has been is involved in numerous initiatives over the years in a variety of countries across the world, feeding the homeless in the U.S, working alongside children's charities such as the School-Home Support in the U.K and helping war refugees in his native Sudan.
The extent of his humanitarian efforts spreads throughout several continents as he has led several Basketball Without Borders campaigns in countries across Asia, Europe and Africa. That also includes the Luol Deng Foundation which uses the sport as a platform to give hope to those struggling in Africa.
That’s in addition to also being the Spokesperson for the UN’s World Food Programme, helping people who are unable to obtain enough food for themselves and their families. The programme feeds over 90 million people a year, 58 million of whom are children.
Still, despite this being something he has worked hard to receive and is extremely proud of, he was quick to redirect the praise towards his parents rather than himself.
"It's one of those things when I talk to my parents about it, they'll be very proud,” said Deng. “I don't have any kids, but it's one of those things where, when you have a kid and your kid calls home and tells the parents what award he won, they'll be proud that they've done a good job.”
Granted it’s not a competition, but odds are it won’t be the last time Deng wins the award for all the work he has done outside of the brutal NBA schedule.
Nonetheless, he is still keen to continue his work across the planet, saying: “I wish I could wake up tomorrow and nobody needs help, but we all know that's not going to happen. “I'm just happy to be in the position that I'm in to be able to do the things that I'm able to do.”
In case you were wondering why it’s called the “J.Walter Kennedy Award,” it was named after James Walter Kennedy who was the Commissioner of the NBA from 1963 to 1975.
Not only did he do an outstanding job running the league (expanded the league to 18 teams, average attendance figures tripled and the league income in increased by 200 percent by the end of his tenure), but he also did exceptional work outside of the game. He was involved with organizations such as the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Special Olympics and the Boys’ & Girls’ Towns of Italy.
He died in 1977 after losing his battle with cancer at the age of 65.
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