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Grizzlies to honor Patrick Ewing, Elgin Baylor and Jim Brown as part of the 11th Annual MLK, Jr. Day Celebration

Event to be held on Janaury 21 leading up to and including the Memphis Grizzlies vs. Indiana Pacers game.

MEMPHIS, January 7, 2013— The Grizzlies will be hosting their 11th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Day on Monday, Jan. 21 when they play the Indiana Pacers at Noon. This year, NBA Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing, Elgin Baylor and NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown will be honored for their contributions to civil and human rights. The event is hosted by the Memphis Grizzlies, National Civil Rights Museum, City of Memphis and Shelby County and presented by FedEx, Hyde Family Foundation, Lexus, Delta Air Lines, C-Spire and MLGW. Associate Game Sponsors include SunTrust, McDonald’s of the Mid-South and State Farm.

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Ewing, Baylor and Brown will be the recipients of the Eighth Annual National Civil Rights Sports Legacy Awards, 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.

Regarded by many as the best shooting center of all time, Patrick Ewing was an offensive juggernaut and was once touted as the next Bill Russell. Due to his success in college, the “Hoya Destroya” was the ultimate prize in the 1985 Draft, and was the reason the NBA instituted the first ever Draft Lottery. After being selected by the New York Knicks, the NBA Hall of Famer enjoyed a very successful career where he was named an NBA All-Star 11 times, named to the All-NBA First Team once, six times to the All-NBA Second Team and named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team three times. Ewing, an original member of the Olympic Dream Team, won two gold medals with the U.S. Men’s Basketball team and was named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

Off the court, Ewing is a passionate supporter of Zo’s Fund for Life Foundation, an organization established by NBA veteran Alonzo Mourning, who was diagnosed with a kidney disease. He also became a strong supporter of breast cancer research after losing his sister to the disease. Ewing has continuously given back to the community and those less fortunate from the NBA’s Coaches for Kids to his most recent holiday toy giveaway.

Elgin Baylor, one of the best all-around players in basketball history played 13 seasons as a forward for the NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers (now the Los Angeles Lakers). Baylor was known for his acrobatic style of play and his trademark hanging jump shots. The NBA Hall of Famer was named to the All-NBA First Team selection ten times, NBA All-Star 11 times and was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977. He was named to the NBA 35th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1980 and the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996. He was also ranked as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

As an African-American player who lived and played during the time of segregation, Baylor has seen and overcome his share of injustices. In particular, an incident in 1959 where Baylor and two other black players were scheduled to stay in a different hotel than his white teammates. In protest, Baylor sat out of the entire game and refused to dress in his uniform. Passionate about giving back to his community, Baylor has donated his time and money to agencies whom provide food, shelter and support services to minorities in need. During his years as a member of the Lakers, Baylor coached youth as a part of the Lakers' community and promotional outreach. He hosted free basketball camps for the area’s minority youth.

After retiring from the Lakers, he hosted a radio program addressing issues in the minority community. He has also worked with the Los Angeles Clippers’ community outreach programs helping minority and underprivileged children and families in academics, sports and food giveaway programs. Additionally, Baylor has donated to the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles for a number of years. He has supported fundraising events for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Santa Monica and Napa Valley, as well as, events benefiting various types of cancer and cancer research, heart disease, Colitis, education, and too many other causes to mention. He currently provides scholarships for African-American students attending Los Angeles Community College and frequently donates to the St. Joseph Center.

Known as the greatest runner of all time by many, Jim Brown, spent nine seasons in the NFL. The first round draft choice of the Cleveland Browns in 1957, he led the NFL in rushing for eight seasons. Prior to his retirement, the NFL Hall of Famer held most of the NFL’s career and single-season rushing records, including the first player ever to reach the 100-rushing touchdowns milestone. Dubbed the “greatest football player of all time” by The Sporting News, Brown retired from football in 1966 to pursue a movie career where he found much success. Off the big screen, Brown championed human rights, specifically those of African-Americans. In the 60’s, he helped to create the Negro Industrial Economic Union to support black-owned businesses. In the 80’s, he started the Amer-I-Can program, a national program and movement to empower individuals to take charge of their lives and achieve their full potential. Brown began the Amer-I-Can Foundation as a way to not only stop the violence, but to teach troubled people self-pride and personal responsibility.

The Martin Luther King Day celebration will begin this year with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium, presented by the Hyde Family Foundation.  The symposium will feature Ewing, Baylor and Brown, who will share their stories and experiences about their contributions to civil and human rights in the spirit of Dr. King.  The free symposium will be held in the Coventry Health Care Practice Facility at FedExForum from 10-11 a.m., with doors set to open at 9:30 a.m.  While admission is free with the purchase of a Grizzlies game ticket against the Pacers that afternoon, space is limited.  Season Ticket Holders interested in attending must pre-register by calling their Account Executive at (901) 888-HOOP or sending an e-mail to rsvp@grizzlies.com.

Following the symposium, the Grizzlies and Pacers will tip-off at noon in a nationally televised game on ESPN, presented by Lexus and Delta Air Lines, along with associate sponsors SunTrust and McDonald’s of the Mid-South and State Farm.  Fans will want to arrive early, as FedEx will present the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Ceremony prior to tip-off, where Ewing, Baylor and Brown will receive their awards.  The halftime ceremony, presented by MLGW, will feature a special Martin Luther King, Jr. video tribute, recognition of Brown, Ewing and Baylor, and a performance by American recording artist, Aaron Neville.

After the game, C-Spire will present the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day High School Classic.  This year, the Southwind Jaguars will tip-off against the Amanda Elzy Panthers at 3 p.m. Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to the Grizzlies game. 

This marks the eighth year the Grizzlies and the National Civil Rights Museum have given out the Sports Legacy Award, presented by FedEx. Last year, George Gervin and Clyde Drexler earned the honor.  Previously, Willie Mays, Willis Reed and Lenny Wilkens were recognized in 2011. Oscar Robertson and Alonzo Mourning were recognized in 2010. Julius Erving and Dave Bing were presented with the award in 2009. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob Lanier were honored with the award in 2008. David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo were the recipients for the award in 2007 and Bill Russell and Mannie Jackson received the inaugural distinction in 2006.

Fans who want to support the Memphis Grizzlies and purchase tickets for the MLK Jr. Day Celebration, 2012-13 Season Tickets, or 10- and 20-Game Flex Packs can do so by calling 901.888.HOOP (4667) or at grizzlies.com. Tickets for the Plaza IV and Terrace IV sections are already sold out. For more information on the Grizzlies, ‘like’ Memphis Grizzlies on Facebook or follow on Twitter (@memgrizz).