Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Luol Deng has been voted the 2013-14 winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award which is presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association to the player, coach or trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for any award, but this one is special because it represents who I am as a person and where I came from,” said Deng via press release. “What I’m most proud of is that my family can look back after my career is over and realize that I was able to make a difference on and off the basketball court. That is something that tells the true story as to who I am as a person, someone who cares about his community and wants to improve the lives of others.”
Deng recently recorded a public service announcement for the EnoughProject.org, urging peace during a time of renewed conflict in his native South Sudan. This is his latest contribution to a number of international causes, including The Luol Deng Foundation, which is a global non-profit organization that uses basketball as a platform to give hope to those in Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the U.S., Deng’s work has been focused primarily on the communities in which he has played, Chicago and Cleveland. He has funded Thanksgiving and holiday events that provide meals and toys to the underserved and has also served as a mentor to the “Lost Boys of Sudan.” He is also an avid supporter of the NBA’s Basketball without Borders program and has participated in PSA’s to raise awareness for World Malaria Day.
“The breadth and depth of Luol Deng’s community service elevated him from a deep pool of committed candidates,” said PBWA President Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “But, really, all the candidates and their communities are winners.”
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