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VOL. 131 | NO. 2 | Monday, January 4, 2016

Sports Legacy Award Winners to Be Honored at MLK Game

By Don Wade

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Jalen Rose, Spencer Haywood and Tamika Catchings are the recipients of the 11th annual National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award and will be honored on Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Monday, Jan. 18 – when the Grizzlies play the New Orleans Pelicans at FedExForum.


Jalen Rose (Photo by Omar Vega/Invision for Hennessy/AP Images)
Spencer Haywood (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Tamika Catchings (AP Photo/Jim Mone)


This marks the 14th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Game and the 1:30 p.m. game will be televised by ESPN.

Catchings, Haywood and Rose will be honored during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium, presented by the Hyde Family Foundation, for their significant contributions to civil and human rights, and for laying the foundation for future leaders through their career in sports in the spirit of Dr. King.

Rose, an ESPN analyst, played 13 years in the NBA. He played in the 2000 NBA Finals as a member of the Indiana Pacers and was the 13th overall pick of the 1994 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets.

Rose was a member of “Fab Five” recruiting class of 1991 at the University of Michigan. During his tenure, the Wolverines made two NCAA Finals appearances in 1992 and 1993. As a freshman, Rose led the Fab Five in scoring, averaging 19 points per game, and set the school freshman scoring record with 597 total points.

Off the court, in 2000, Rose established the Jalen Rose Foundation/Charitable Fund to create opportunity for underprivileged youth. Since its inception, Rose has personally donated more than $1.2 million to the fund. In 2011, Rose created the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school, in his hometown of Detroit. Rose currently serves as president of the board of directors for the JRLA and is a recognized ambassador for the National Basketball Retired Players Association.

Haywood, a Mississippi native, changed the NBA landscape. As a 20-year-old rookie with the old American Basketball Association with the Denver Rockets in 1969-70, Haywood won the league’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards.

In the 1970-71 season, he jumped to the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics. At the time, the NBA prohibited the drafting and signing of a player before his college class graduated. The NBA league office and other NBA teams opposed the move, protesting that it violated existing rules.

Subsequently, the NBA took Haywood and the Sonics to court. The argument in Haywood's favor was that, as the sole wage earner in his struggling family, he was a "hardship case" and therefore had a right to begin earning his living. The Supreme Court ruled in Haywood's favor, forever altering professional basketball.

During his five years with Seattle, he made four NBA All-Star Teams, two All-NBA First Teams and two All-NBA Second Teams. After retiring from playing in 1983, Haywood became involved in real estate development in Detroit, and wrote his autobiography, “Spencer Haywood: The Rise, the Fall, the Recovery.”

Catchings is the first female Sports Legacy Award honoree. Known as the WNBA Indiana Fever’s “do everything” forward, she is set to become the WNBA’s only player ever to spend an entire career of 15 or more seasons with the same franchise.

On the court, she’s earned WNBA Finals MVP honors while leading the Fever to the 2012 WNBA championship. A year earlier, in 2011, she captured her first regular-season MVP honor.

Last year, Catchings announced her intentions to retire following the 2016 WNBA season, which coincides with the Summer Olympics in August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Catchings hopes to join an elite club with Teresa Edwards and Lisa Leslie, who currently are the only American basketball players, male or female, to earn four Olympic gold medals. She is currently the WNBA career playoffs leader in points, rebounds, free throws and steals.

An inductee of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Catchings has spread her good works throughout Indiana and through national campaigns. She was appointed to serve on the U.S. Department of State’s Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports. Serving in that capacity, she has traveled around the globe to engage girls and women through the power of sport. Among her social and cultural accolades, Catchings also serves as president of the WNBA Player Association.

The Sports Legacy Symposium will be held from noon to 1 p.m. before the Grizzlies game in the Grizzlies Built Ford Tough Training Facility at FedExForum.

The symposium will be emceed by Grizzlies television play-by-play announcer Pete Pranica and feature Rose, Haywood and Catchings sharing their personal stories. The symposium will be streamed live on grizzlies.com. While admission is free to the symposium with the purchase of a ticket to the Grizzlies vs. Pelicans game, space is limited.

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