O’Neal Wins NBA Community Assist Award

NBA News Release
New York, Jan. 12, 2007

In recognition of Jermaine O’Neal’s outstanding efforts in the community and for his ongoing philanthropic work, the NBA announced today it has honored the Indiana Pacers forward/center with the Community Assist Award for December. This is the second time O’Neal has received this award, having also won it in December 2003.

During a very busy December, O’Neal hosted five events to assist those in need during the holidays.
O’Neal’s outreach marked the fifth consecutive year of his holiday partnership with Indiana Black Expo, Inc. in Indianapolis. Since teaming up with IBE, O’ Neal has provided over $250,000 in toys, clothing, shoes, electronics, and other donations to nearly 3,000 children. In addition, families are treated to a Christmas party complete with arts and crafts, raffles, music, games, a visit from Santa, and one-on-one time with O’Neal.

In what is planned to become an annual event, the Jermaine O’ Neal Foundation partnered with the international hunger relief organization Feed the Children, to provide 400 Indianapolis Housing Authority (IHA) families and senior citizens meals for the holidays. Along with his wife Mesha, O’Neal joined staff and volunteers to unload a trailer truck full of food and supplies and distributed them to local needy families. O’Neal also donated $30,000 to the Columbia Housing Authority in his hometown of Columbia, S.C., to treat 100 youth to a shopping spree during the second annual Jermaine O’Neal Christmas Extravaganza. The children who participated were rewarded for their hard work and good grades in school.

As part of the NBA Cares partnership with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, O’Neal has also lent his name and support to a fundraising initiative via the sale of limited edition personal wristbands. Because of his strong ongoing partnership with IBE, whose president recently lost his battle with prostate cancer, O’Neal is also sharing proceeds locally with the Rev. Charles Williams Prostate Cancer Mobile Unit which offers free prostate cancer screenings in low income areas across the state of Indiana.

O’Neal’s Foundation strives to make a difference in children’s lives through other events such as his annual Jermaine O'Neal Super Shootout, showcasing the best Indiana high school senior basketball players in Marion County, each April. Since his involvement in the program, approximately 100 athletes have received full scholarships to continue their education and have the opportunity to play collegiate basketball.

As the recipient of the NBA Community Assist Award, O’Neal will receive the David Robinson Plaque with the inscription, “Following the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson who improved the community piece by piece.” In addition to the plaque, a $5,000 gift will be given to the Jermaine O’Neal Foundation.

The league presents the NBA Community Assist Award monthly to recognize players for their charitable efforts. The award honors the NBA player who reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their communities.

NBA Cares is the league's social responsibility initiative that builds on the NBA's long tradition of addressing important social issues in the United States and around the world. During the first year of NBA Cares, teams, current and former players, and the league office contributed 205,000 hours of hands-on volunteer service, raised more than $32 million for charity, and created 120 places where kids and families can live, learn or play. NBA Cares works with internationally-recognized youth-serving programs that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes, including: UNICEF; Reading Is Fundamental; Habitat for Humanity; Boys & Girls Clubs of America; Feed the Children, Special Olympics, KaBOOM!, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and many others.