(MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES NEWS RELEASE) – The Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA) have selected Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley as one of five finalists for the 2018-19 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
The honor, named after the NBA’s second commissioner, has been presented annually since the 1974-75 season by the PBWA and is given to a player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community. The other finalists include Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr, and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.
Conley has donated over $1.2 million to the Grizzlies Foundation during his career, which focuses on creating and implementing programs to help students develop and maximize their potential. The foundation also supports Grizzlies Preparatory School which primarily focuses on educating, shaping and providing opportunities for young men of color in Memphis. Conley was awarded with the January NBA Cares Community Assist Award, and on behalf of Conley, the NBA and Kaiser Permanente donated $10,000 to Grizzlies Prep.
As part of National Mentoring Month and to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Conley was a part of a TNT feature that focused on the work NBA players are doing with local schools. Conley participated in a conversation, alongside NBA legend Isiah Thomas, with five students from Grizzlies Prep. The opportunity allowed Conley to have an open dialogue with young scholars on social justice and how they can honor the work and legacy of Dr. King. Conley utilized his platform as a professional athlete to bring awareness to social injustices, and the importance of being involved with the next generation, before leading the students on a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum.
In addition, recently Conley and the Grizzlies invited the family of 9-year-old Kameren Johnson to a home game at FedExForum. Kameren was on an Arkansas bus carrying Orange Mound Youth Association football players when the bus crashed and tragically took Kameren’s life. Conley also invited teammates and coaches to sit courtside with Kameren’s family. Following the game, he donated $15,000 to assist with medical bills and counseling for all of Johnson’s teammates and donated a customized pair of game-worn sneakers to Johnson’s mother.
This past September, Conley hosted his 10th annual “Mike Conley Bowl-N-Bash,” a fundraising bowling event that benefits the Methodist Healthcare Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, which raised over $100,000. Conley and his family announced a $500,000 donation to support the Sickle Cell Center in late April. In recognition of this commitment and generosity, the Center’s clinic space will now be named The Mike and Mary Conley Comprehensive Sickle Cell Clinic.
Conley becomes the second Grizzlies player in franchise history to be named a finalist for the award, joining Zach Randolph, who was a finalist during the 2014-15 season. Current Grizzlies center Joakim Noah won the award that season as a member of the Chicago Bulls.
All 30 NBA teams were eligible to submit nominations for the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, and the five finalists were determined by a committee of 25 PBWA members who reviewed the teams’ nominations and conducted a vote. The winner will be determined through a vote of the PBWA’s full membership.