Grizzlies Honor Oscar Robertson and Alonzo Mourning as
Part of The Eighth Annual MLK Jr. Day Game and Celebration
At left, Oscar Robertson and Alonzo Mourning take part in a civil rights symposium conducted by David Aldridge of TNT Sports. At right, The Big O addresses the crowd at FedEx Forum in Memphis after being presented with the Civil Rights Sports Legacy Award. (Photos courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images, with thanks to the Memphis Grizzlies.)
See links to coverage of this event at the bottom of the page.
Memphis, Tennessee - The Memphis Grizzlies honored NBA legends Oscar Robertson and Alonzo Mourning for their contributions to civil and human rights on January 18, 2010, when they hosted the Eighth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Game and Celebration, presented by the Memphis Grizzlies, National Civil Rights Museum, City of Memphis and Shelby County.
Robertson and Mourning received the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award presented by FedEx. The award pays tribute to athletes who have made significant contributions to civil and human rights and who have laid the foundation for future leaders through their careers in sports in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
One of the most decorated players on both the professional and collegiate levels in the history of basketball, Robertson overcame the prejudices prior to the Civil Rights era to blossom into an American sports icon. After growing up in a segregated housing project in Indianapolis in the '40s and '50s, Robertson followed his historic playing career by carrying out Dr. King's vision through the philanthropic and entrepreneurial efforts that earned him an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from the University of Cincinnati. Robertson has also served as the honorary spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation since donating one of his kidneys to his daughter in 1997. As the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season, the Hall-of-Famer, Olympic gold medalist (1960), former MVP (1964) and 12-time All-Star was named the "Player of the Century" by the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 2000. During his college career at Cincinnati, Robertson became the first winner of three Division I Player of the Year honors, an award that would later be named the Oscar Robertson Trophy in tribute to his remarkable career. More recently, Robertson was one of five members of the founding class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006, and was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2009.
As a defining player of his generation, Mourning inspired millions when he returned from a kidney transplant to help the Miami Heat win their first NBA championship in 2006. After being diagnosed with the kidney disease that changed the course of an impressive early career that included two Defensive Player of the Year awards (1999, 2000) and seven All-Star appearances, Mourning launched Zo's Fund for Life. The program seeks to raise funds for research, education and testing to fight kidney disease and fund those who are not able to afford medication. Mourning's efforts to fight kidney disease are only a portion of the charitable work that the 2002 winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner has done. In 1997, Mourning established Alonzo Mourning Charities Inc. to aid in the development of children and families living in at-risk situations. The Olympic gold medalist (2000) was also a member of a group of athletes, including Muhammad Ali and Lance Armstrong, that founded Athletes for Hope, a charitable organization that helps professional athletes and non-athletes to volunteer and support the community.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium presented by the Hyde Family Foundation featured Robertson and Mourning sharing their stories and experiences about their contributions to civil and human rights in the spirit of Dr. King with the symposium's host, TNT's David Aldridge.
2010 was the fifth year the Grizzlies and National Civil Rights Museum presented the Sports Legacy Award. Previous recipients were Julius Erving and David Bing (2009), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Lanier (2008), David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo (2007), and Bill Russell and Mannie Jackson (2006).
For more information, visit grizzlies.com.