KU’s Bill Self to Receive Basketball’s Human Spirit Award by Naismith Hall of Fame
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self is one of three recipients of the 2015 Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Tuesday evening on NBA TV.
Self, along with former Reebok CEO Paul Fireman and 14-year NBA veteran Steve Smith, will be recognized on Thursday, September 10, at the Reunion Dinner on the Hall of Fame’s Center Court during Enshrinement Weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“It is an honor for us to recognize these three outstanding men for their humanitarian efforts,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame. “The Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award is a prestigious honor awarded only to those with this highest level of dedication to making the world a better place – each of these recipients is tremendously worthy.”
Self, Fireman and Smith were chosen from a large candidate pool that represents every level of basketball and is reviewed annually by a distinguished selection committee appointed by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Mr. Jackson.
Winners of the Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award exhibit qualities such as striving to improve the community, making a commitment to others, hard work and embracing the core values of the game. Beyond the game, award winners must reflect the values of Mannie Jackson’s life-long mission to overcome obstacles and challenge the status quo, while taking responsibility for his or her actions and seeking the highest standard of excellence.
“I was certainly surprised and honored when I heard that I was going to receive this award,” Self said. “I’ve known of Mannie Jackson a long time. When I was at Illinois, he, being an Illinois graduate, was a very well-known name. He always epitomizes class and dedication through his work and this is certainly a great honor. To be mentioned with Paul and Steve is a big thrill to me. I look forward to the ceremony and hopefully through our Assists Foundation we can continue to help serve the youth in our community.”
In 2006, Self and his wife Cindy established the Assists Foundation to function as a fundraising conduit for organizations that serve a variety of youth initiatives in Lawrence and the surrounding area. Assists has helped fund programs such as Kansas Action for Healthy Kids, Lawrence Public Library, Boys and Girls Clubs of Lawrence, Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Kansas and Head Start of Lawrence, among many others. The Assists Foundation has also helped create a program called ‘Winning Attitudes for Life’ within the school system for elementary through high school students to promote healthy living, physical fitness, positive well-being and self-respect. The program helps students develop their leadership, team building, decision-making and communication skills.
Because of Jackson’s lifelong commitment to the betterment of others, the award, which began in 2007, carries his namesake. Jackson has served as a positive example and role model to his peers, in addition to his tremendous business success. A former star for the Harlem Globetrotters, Jackson served as a senior executive for Honeywell, Inc. during the 1980’s and early 1990’s, and saved the Globetrotters from near extinction in 1993 when he purchased the team. In doing so, Jackson became the first African-American owner of a major international sports and entertainment organization. In a short period of time, Jackson revived the organization and led the Globetrotters to record attendance and revenue growth while expanding the influence of the Globetrotters to more than 118 countries. Under Jackson’s watch the Globetrotters charitable contribution totaled over $15 million and in 2002 the Harlem Globetrotters were elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 2012, Jackson penned his bestselling autobiography, “Boxcar To Boardrooms“ and continues to donate generously to numerous causes including the American Red Cross, victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast, victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the Globetrotters Scholarship Foundation, the University of Illinois, South African youth funds, the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Lincoln School Alumni Foundation of his hometown Edwardsville, Illinois.
The Mannie Jackson – Basketball’s Human Spirit Award Winners 2015
Paul Fireman – Massachusetts native, Paul Fireman, served as the Chairman & CEO of Reebok International for 26 years and is well known in the athletic community as a champion of human rights. In 1986, Reebok became one of the first companies to pull out of South Africa because of the country’s practice of apartheid and two years later Reebok International sponsored the Amnesty International Human Rights Now tour. Fireman and his wife founded ‘The Paul and Phyllis Fireman Foundation’ in 1985, which focuses on ending family homelessness in Massachusetts. Through their foundation, they have developed One Family Inc., which advances the vision of ending homelessness by operating a scholarship program for formerly homeless and at-risk women. To promote permanent solutions to homelessness, the Foundation has joined with other donors to create Home Funders, a collaborative fund that finances very affordable rental housing for low-income families in Massachusetts.
Steve Smith – Michigan State University All-American, Olympic gold medalist and NBA TV analyst, Steve Smith, has excelled at every level of the game. In 1997, Smith gifted $2,500,000 to his alma mater to help fund the Clara Bell Smith Student Athlete Academic Center, which is named for his mother, who died of cancer during his NBA rookie season. He also established ‘The Steve Smith Charitable Fund’ and with a subsequent donation, fully endowed a four-year academic scholarship program that is awarded annually to one student from his former high school. The Steve Smith Charitable Fund also supports local charities in Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, as well as in Atlanta, Georgia. Smith is currently a member of the Nsoro Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to enriching the lives of foster children and serves on the Hughes Spaulding – Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Community Board, which is the largest clinical care provider for children in the country.
Bill Self – University of Kansas head coach and the 2012 Naismith Coach of the Year, Bill Self, is one of the most respected coaches in the game. In 2006, he and his wife Cindy established ‘Assists Foundation’ to function as a fundraising conduit for organizations that serve a variety of youth initiatives in Lawrence and the surrounding area. Assists has helped fund programs such as Kansas Action for Healthy Kids, Lawrence Public Library, Boys and Girls Clubs of Lawrence, Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Kansas and Head Start of Lawrence, among many others. The Assists Foundation has also helped create a program called ‘Winning Attitudes for Life’ within the school system for elementary through high school students to promote healthy living, physical fitness, positive well-being and self-respect. The program helps students develop their leadership, team building, decision-making and communication skills.
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