For the second straight season, a Lakers player has won the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, "given annually to the player, coach or trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community."
Last year, it was Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace, of course). This season, Pau Gasol has earned the honor, the league announced Friday.
Gasol is extremely active in charitable causes, primarily aimed at children, including work as a UNICEF ambassador since 2003, where he established Pau's Project, supporting education and nutrition programs in Africa. In March, he launched an interactive story app "Give a Day," narrated in English, Spanish, and Catalan. Locally, Gasol has built a strong relationship with Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where he's gone well beyond the admirable-but-conventional interaction with sick kids, observing spinal surgery and helping facilitate the donation of sophisticated technological equipment for the hospital pharmacy. He remains involved as well with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis.
Pau is unquestionably as good a person you'll meet in sports, or anywhere for that matter. It's great to see his time and efforts recognized and honored. He's certainly worthy of it.