Olynyk to Receive Special Honor in Return to BOS

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics hand out a “Heroes Among Us” award during a timeout at every home game in recognition of an individual who has impacted the Greater Boston community in an extraordinary manner. That honor will go to a very special former member of the organization Wednesday night when the Miami Heat come to town.

Heat forward Kelly Olynyk, who spent his first four NBA seasons with the Celtics, will receive the prestigious award in celebration of the incredible impact that he had on the local community as an active, off-court citizen.

“I love this community and just everything the Celtics did,” Olynyk said Wednesday afternoon following Heat shootaround. “It was just fun, you know; fun to get out there with the kids, especially. This community does a lot for this team. When I first got here, [the Celtics] weren’t very good at all, but [the community] supports you. No matter what you do, no matter what your record is, they’re going to be behind you, and I wanted to be behind them the same way that they were behind us.”

Olynyk would seek out any and every community event that he could possibly take part in during his four years in Boston. He would go to local schools and educate students on the importance of environmental preservation. He would take time out of his offseason to bring kids on an annual trip to Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire. Even when he was rehabbing from shoulder surgery, the 7-foot, gentle giant would show up to a community event with his arm in a sling and a smile on his face.

“Any time there was something there, I was willing to do it,” said Olynyk, who is averaging 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game during his first season with the Heat. “That was just something that I felt that I could do to give back to the community and help this community. They support you so much; to be able to give back, all you do is give back time, really. And you can change somebody’s life in that way. You have the power to do that, and that’s something you should use.”

Because of his strong views on community service, Olynyk would always show great appreciation for the recipients of the Heroes Among Us award. But never in his wildest dreams did he think that he would get the opportunity to stand center-court and have that honor bestowed upon him.

“Over my four years here, I saw a lot of people do some inhuman things,” said Olynyk. “You’re sitting over there on the bench looking at the situation this person went through, or the situation that they endured to help somebody else, and you’re like, ‘If I’m in that situation I’m not sure that you would do what some of these people do,’ whether it’s saving someone from a lake, or whatever they’re doing to just help their community in extraordinary ways.

“It’s special,” he added. “I’ve seen a lot of people go through and receive that honor, and it’s an honor to be with them.”

It’s a well-deserved honor for a man who was so much more than just a basketball player for the city of Boston. Olynyk was a model citizen who used his platform as an athlete to positively influence countless lives during his four years as a Celtic, and the organization is making sure that his impact does not go unnoticed.