A memorable May Day for Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried

Denver big man receives citizenship award on same day as civil unions become legal in Colorado.
by Aaron Lopez

On the day that civil unions officially became a reality in Colorado, one of their biggest advocates celebrated as well.

“I’m happy for them,” Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried said. “This is a fitting reward for this type of day.”

Raised by two moms while growing up in New Jersey, Faried has lived a life of tolerance and inclusiveness. He was a proponent of the Colorado Civil Union Act that was signed into law this spring, and he is a proud member of Athlete Ally, an organization that works to encourage acceptance of others and end homophobia in sports.

Faried’s numerous off-the-court efforts were honored Wednesday when he received the 2012-13 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award named after the second commissioner of the NBA.

The Professional Basketball Writers Association presents the award to the player, coach or athletic trainer who demonstrates outstanding service and dedication to the community.

“Kenneth's commitment to equality and inclusion is praise-worthy,” said PBWA president Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "He has reached out to so many areas in need and touched so many different communities in Denver and Colorado that it is only right to celebrate his efforts.''

Faried, in his second NBA season, joins Dan Issel and Alex English as Nuggets to receive the award.

As he examined the globe-topped trophy honoring his work, Faried said he was “ecstatic” to receive the award but added that his community involvement is not motivated by individual recognition.

“I’m not really one that wants the accolades for doing stuff that feels natural to me,” he said. “It comes easy just being a good person and supporting things. That’s just me. There’s no reward needed for it or recognition … I’m happy to be an active citizen helping people just by doing little things.”

In addition to supporting equal rights in the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community, Faried served as an honorary coach at the 2013 NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports Basketball Game during NBA All-Star in Houston.

As part of the Nuggets’ community ticket program, Faried purchased a block of season tickets for distribution to children from Special Olympics Colorado, Denver Public Schools and the Denver Rescue Mission for the 2012-13 season.

He also joined the giveSPORTS Equipment Drive to provide inspiration and enjoyment for individuals affected by the Colorado wildfires and the tragic shooting at the Aurora movie theater.

As part of the NBA Cares Pediatric Cancer Awareness Campaign, Faried visited patients and families at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and joined them in a Team Fit clinic. He also donated and personally delivered 44 pairs of sneakers to a local middle school basketball team for use during its season.

“I really enjoy players that have a desire to give back and speak and stand for the things that are important,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “His recognition is deserving. I think you’ll see Kenneth sustain it throughout his career. We’re all proud of him.”