Suns News

Steve Nash Recognized for Off-the-Court Assists

This past season, Nike donated shoes on behalf of Steve Nash to the boys basketball team from Florence Crittenton Youth Academy.
(NBAE Photos)
By Brad G. Faye,
Posted: June 13, 2007

As unselfish off the court as he is on it, Steve Nash’s community efforts were recognized this past week when the two-time MVP was named the recipient of the 2006-07 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, recognizing a player or coach for their outstanding service and commitment to give of his time outside the arena.

Nash joins another All-Star point guard in Kevin Johnson as former Suns to take home the award, with KJ receiving the honor following the 1990-91 season.

“With Kevin there, it’s definitely good company for Steve,” Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said. “Like Kevin, Steve has ideas of doing something greater once he’s done playing because he wants to make an impact on the world around him. It’s admirable and one of the things you definitely appreciate about Steve.”

Teammates during the 1997-98 season in Phoenix, the young Canadian benefited not only from seeing KJ’s efforts on the NBA hardwood, but off it, as well. Nash has been a fixture in the Phoenix community during his Valley playing days, and through his efforts, has helped change the lives of many Valley residents.

“Cassidy Kersten, Kristen Leonard and Chris Mallory - our Community Relations staff - do a phenomenal job of working with Steve and his foundation,” Griffin said. “I think when you win the Citizenship Award it’s not because you set out to win that award, it’s because you genuinely are that caring of a person.”

“Steve will be quite honored to receive such a wonderful award,” Community Relations Manager Cassidy Kersten said. “He is already one of the most humble people, and even more so when recognition is given to him individually – but as we all know, it is always well-deserved.

“As an organization, you couldn’t be more proud. Through both his actions and his foundation, Steve represents himself and the Suns with class and selflessness, so we cannot help but be excited for him.”

The Steve Nash Foundation was formed in 2001 and works towards the goal of assisting underserved kids in their health, personal development, education and enjoyment of life. The foundation assists not only children in Phoenix, but all over the globe.

Steve – who is currently vacationing with his family in Thailand – could not be reached for comment on receiving the award. During the season, however, the All-Star did speak about his efforts to give back with HOOP Magazine.

“I feel incredibly lucky just to be able to give back,” Nash told the publication. “There is so much inequality and ills, and things that are going on that are awful. Sometimes I want my wife not to tell me about things she reads about. Sometimes I read about things and it’s heartbreaking, and then sometimes she’ll start telling me about something that’s just so painful just to hear about, that you want her to save it for another time. So I’m continually learning about the awful plights that different people and cultures, and generations and nationalities face, and it’s very difficult sometimes.”

Included among Nash's recent efforts are a combined NBA player effort to raise money to fight prostate cancer, visits to the Children's Hospital and his annual charity game north of the border. But while Nash has outstretched his arms overseas to locations including Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, Paraguay and South Africa, he has also continued to remain involved in the Phoenix community as well.

During a December 5, 2006 win over Sacramento, Nash dished off a game-high 20 assists, but his biggest assist, however, may have come before the game when Nash met with one of his biggest fans, 9-year-old Christopher Weekley. A dedicated Suns fan who had spent nearly seven months in both the Maricopa County Burn Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Weekley had the opportunity to enjoy a Suns game in person that evening for the first time since his release last summer.

“Through watching the team these past couple of seasons, Chris became a big fan of (Steve’s),” Chris’ father Dave said. “He would talk about Nash a lot, and during the playoffs, the nurses would always turn on the game for him.”

Weekley watched the pregame shoot-around from the Phoenix bench, but his biggest surprise came when he had the chance to hang out with the two-time MVP whom he’d spent so much time watching on television. Nash met with Weekley just minutes before tip-off, and gave the young fan a special souvenir in the form of an autographed basketball.

“It’s really nice that I can brighten up someone’s day, especially someone who’s had a tough year,” Nash said of the encounter. “I never went through anything as difficult as Christopher, and I feel honored that I was able to help make the game a memorable one for him.”

When Nash first entered the league as Phoenix's No. 1 pick in 1996, many hoped he could follow in KJ's footsteps in terms of floor leadership and ability to man the point. But over the past three seasons, Nash has averaged 11.3, 10.2 and 13.3 assists per contest. As good as he is at consistently delivering assists on the court, it’s the ones he delivers off it which have allowed him to follow in Johnson’s footsteps in more ways than one.