Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James wins PBWA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

Official release

NEW YORK — Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James has won the 2016-17 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 a player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

James was one of five finalists for the award, along with New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph. The finalists were chosen by a committee of PBWA members from a list of 26 nominees submitted by NBA teams. The winner was determined by a vote of the entire PBWA, which is composed of approximately 200 writers and editors who cover the NBA on a regular basis for newspapers, online outlets and magazines.

The 32-year-old James is being honored for improving the educational opportunities of disadvantaged youth in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and creating long-term change in his community. More than 1,100 at-risk students have benefited from programs through the LeBron James Family Foundation (LJFF), which motivates children to stay in school and attend college.

“LeBron James’ efforts to help young people are exemplary,” said PBWA President Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “He is making a difference, and so are the other 25 people who were nominated for this award.”

James takes an active role in mentoring LJFF students, writing them letters, calling their homes and rewarding them with tickets to Cavaliers games. He also buys groceries for the students and their families, supplies school uniforms and arranges outings so that the children can be exposed to new experiences. His efforts include an annual “Family Reunion,” the most recent of which featured James hosting more than 5,000 students and family members at a local amusement park.

This season, the LJFF announced a partnership with Akron Public Schools to create a new public school called the I PROMISE School tailored to meet the needs of the students in his program and their families. James also established the I PROMISE Institute at the University of Akron, which will provide around-the-clock support to LJFF students when they begin pursuing four-year degrees. The institute further strengthens the relationship between James and the university and follows a joint announcement in 2015 that pledged full college scholarships for qualifying students enrolled in his mentorship program.

The LJFF stresses the importance of giving back to communities. In February, James brought 23 high school students from Akron that serve as mentors in his foundation to New Orleans for NBA All-Star 2017, where they rebuilt a home damaged by Hurricane Katrina and assisted in tornado relief efforts.

Below is the list of all-time winners of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award:


Season Winner, Team

1974-75 Wes Unseld, Washington

1975-76 Slick Watts, Seattle

1976-77 Dave Bing, Washington

1977-78 Bob Lanier, Detroit

1978-79 Calvin Murphy, Houston

1979-80 Austin Carr, Cleveland

1980-81 Mike Glenn, New York

1981-82 Kent Benson, Detroit

1982-83 Julius Erving, Philadelphia

1983-84 Frank Layden, Utah

1984-85 Dan Issel, Denver

1985-86 Michael Cooper, L.A. Lakers, Rory Sparrow, New York

1986-87 Isiah Thomas, Detroit

1987-88 Alex English, Denver

1988-89 Thurl Bailey, Utah

1989-90 Doc Rivers, Atlanta

1990-91 Kevin Johnson, Phoenix

1991-92 Magic Johnson, L.A. Lakers

1992-93 Terry Porter, Portland

1993-94 Joe Dumars, Detroit

1994-95 Joe O’Toole, Atlanta

1995-96 Chris Dudley, Portland

1996-97 P.J. Brown, Miami

1997-98 Steve Smith, Atlanta

1998-99 Brian Grant, Portland

1999-00 Vlade Divac, Sacramento

2000-01 Dikembe Mutombo, Philadelphia

2001-02 Alonzo Mourning, Miami

2002-03 David Robinson, San Antonio

2003-04 Reggie Miller, Indiana

2004-05 Eric Snow, Cleveland

2005-06 Kevin Garnett, Minnesota

2006-07 Steve Nash, Phoenix

2007-08 Chauncey Billups, Detroit

2008-09 Dikembe Mutombo, Houston

2009-10 Samuel Dalembert, Philadelphia

2010-11 Metta World Peace, L.A. Lakers

2011-12 Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers

2012-13 Kenneth Faried, Denver

2013-14 Luol Deng, Cleveland

2014-15 Joakim Noah, Chicago

2015-16 Wayne Ellington, Brooklyn

2016-17 LeBron James, Cleveland