SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 21: the Utah Jazz Martin Luther King event on the court prior to the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at vivint.SmartHome Arena on January 21, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Utah Jazz honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with series of community events

by Aaron Falk

Thurl Bailey stood at center court and recited the words from memory: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.”

On Monday, more than 50 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, the Utah Jazz joined the rest of the NBA in honoring Dr. King’s life and legacy.

 “His lessons on mutual respect, his fight for equality for all, stand as true today as they ever have,” Bailey told the crowd of 18,000-plus at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Dr. King’s words and lessons were at the center of a number of team events throughout Monday.

 • Children from the Calvary Baptist Church and Salt Lake County Youth Government were treated to a clinic at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The participants got basketball instruction on the court at the arena. They also received a lesson from members of the Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Commission about Dr. King’s legacy and the six principles of nonviolence he outlined in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom.

“We are planting the seed that when they see an injustice, they will have the voice to speak up,” said Emma E. Houston, Salt Lake County’s Director for Diversity and Inclusion and the director of the MLK Commission. “I believe this partnership with the Jazz is reaching the community as a whole. For the Jazz organization to see the need in the community and to branch out and reach out, it can only get better.”

Rayshon Baker, 13, was one of the students in attendance.

“There are a lot of things going on in the community,” he said. “There’s still racism. Dr. King’s message touched me by helping me go through school and every day life and try to do better the next day than I did yesterday, to keep going.”

• Children from the clinic will also be on the court for the National Anthem before the Jazz’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

• The Larry H. Miller Youth Scholarship was presented to Skyline High School senior Tommy Yapias during the NAACP’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. memorial luncheon at the Little America Hotel. Jazz broadcaster Alema Harrington presented the student with an engraved silver bowl and a $3,000 scholarship.

• After 6-year-old Victory Brinker performed the national anthem, the Jazz addressed the crowd at Vivint Smart Home Arena, reflecting on Dr. King’s legacy.


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