POSTED: Apr 27, 2016 2:45 PM ET
NEW YORK — Guard Wayne Ellington of the Brooklyn Nets has won the 2015-16 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award as selected by the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA). The honor, named after the NBA's second commissioner, is presented annually by the PBWA to the player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.
The other finalists for the award were guard George Hill of the Indiana Pacers, forward LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers and guard John Wall of the Washington Wizards.
After his father, Wayne Ellington Sr., was shot to death on Nov. 9, 2014, in Philadelphia, Ellington, a native of Wynnewood, Pa., decided to channel his grief into action by becoming an advocate for gun-violence prevention.
On Sept. 21, 2015, Ellington was the featured speaker at Peace Day Philly's "March for Peace" before a crowd of mostly schoolchildren, many of whom lost a loved one to gun violence. His speech was a primary attraction at the fifth annual Peace Day Philly, which was the culmination of a weeklong series of peace-oriented events. Also in September, Ellington joined Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas and other current and former NBA players to help run the fourth annual Chicago Peace League Basketball Tournament, which aims to reduce gang violence in the city.
Ellington has continued his outreach efforts by creating the "Power of W.E." campaign. In addition to filming a PSA for one of the only hospital-based violence-prevention programs of its kind in the country (in conjunction with Temple University), Ellington plans to host the Philadelphia Peace Games in August. For that event, rival gang members in Philadelphia will come together for a basketball game played on a court built and customized with Power of W.E. messaging for community use.
"Wayne Ellington's efforts to curb gun violence are inspiring," said PBWA President Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. "His message resonates."
Ellington also connected with The Rens, a grassroots children's basketball program in New York City. The Rens became the first basketball team in the country at any level to wear orange patches on their jerseys as a statement against the crisis of gun violence after multiple incidents of gun violence involving the team's members. Ellington provided them with tickets to attend two Nets games. Through the Brooklyn Nets Assist program, Ellington also donated more than 2,000 tickets this season to various youth basketball programs, non-profit organizations and schools throughout New York City.
The PBWA is composed of approximately 175 writers and editors who cover the NBA on a regular basis for newspapers, online outlets and magazines.