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Grizzlies' Jaren Jackson Jr. named finalist again for NBA's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award

The Grizzlies' standout forward was one of five finalists announced Monday for the award, which is given to the league's most impactful social justice activist.
Credit: AP
Memphis Grizzlies' Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) and Cleveland Cavaliers' Dylan Windler (9) battle for a rebound in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, in Cleveland. The Grizzlies won 110-106. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Grizzlies forward-center Jaren Jackson Jr. has once again been selected as one of the NBA's most impactful social justice advocates in the running for the "Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award."

The award was first given to the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony in 2021. It is presented to the player that best pursues social justice and advances Abdul-Jabbar’s life mission to engage, empower and drive equality for individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized or systemically disadvantaged.

Jackson Jr. was also nominated last year. Reggie Bullock of the Dallas Mavericks was named as the second Social Justice Champion at the end of the 2021-2022 season.

This year, Jackson Jr. was nominated alongside Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, San Antonio Spurs guard Tre Jones, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams. 

The winner of the 2022-23 NBA Social Justice Champion award is said to be announced during 2023 NBA Conference Finals and will receive a $100,000 donation from the NBA for a social justice organization of his choosing.  

The other four finalists will each select a social justice organization to receive a $25,000 contribution on their behalf, according to the NBA.

For the past several years, Jackson Jr. has been focused on advancing health and economic equity in Black and brown communities, creating women empowerment initiatives and increasing voter awareness.

At the beginning of the 2022-23 season Jackson Jr. provided classroom essentially for teachers at a local Memphis school. He delivered these supplies in person to thank the Memphis teachers directly.

He also provided tickets to local Women-led organizations during Women's History Month and sponsored organizations to attend the University of Memphis women's basketball team's final home game of the season. Jackson Jr. covered the cost of tickets, transportation and food and beverage for attendees.

He committed $7,500 in 2021 to help 13 different families with eliminating their overdue housing and utility bills, collaborating with both MLGW and organization MIFA, who works to support the independence of vulnerable seniors and families through times of crisis. 

$500,000 was given by Jackson Jr. to help support local youth-serving non-profits Arrow Creative, LITE Memphis and Man UP Teacher Fellowship.

Jackson Jr. was passionate about civic engagement and upon entering the league made it a point to be vocal about being a first-time voter during the 2018 season. Following that, he supported several voting campaigns, including BET’s National Black Voters Day, Tennessee Secretary of State’s, Your Vote Matters Campaign and the Grizzlies’#GrizzVotes Campaign.  

Additionally, Jackson Jr. has been an ambassador for the Nike Game Growers Program, an exclusive opportunity for 7th and 8th grade girls to share their ideas on how to encourage more girls to play sports. 

As part of this ‘Much Required’ campaign, he raised nearly $200,000 in one day to add to his personal donation to help support local youth organizations, including Arts Memphis, Girls Inc., Memphis Slim House, Vance Avenue Youth Development Center and Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis. 

He has selected Rock the Vote as the recipient of his donation.


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