CJ McCollum wins 2023-24 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

The honor is presented annually by the PBWA to a player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community

New Orleans Pelicans guard CJ McCollum has been named the winner of the 2023-24 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, as administered and selected by the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA). Named after the NBA’s second commissioner, the honor is presented annually by the PBWA to a player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

McCollum is being honored for his extensive community work in and around New Orleans, with a focus on education, social justice reform and efforts to provide equitable resources and opportunities for youth.

McCollum was one of five finalists for the award, along with Miami Heat assistant coach Caron Butler, Washington Wizards forward Anthony Gill, Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving and Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. The finalists were chosen by a committee of PBWA members from nominees submitted by NBA teams. The winner was determined by a vote of the entire PBWA, which is composed of more than 200 writers and editors who cover the NBA regularly for newspapers, magazines and online news outlets.

CJ McCollum’s community impact | 2024 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award

“CJ’s passion, generosity and commitment to improving the lives of the youth in his community is truly impressive,” said PBWA President Howard Beck, of The Ringer. “The members of the Professional Basketball Writers Association salute him and all the nominees for their inspiring work.”

In January, McCollum partnered with non-profit College Beyond to launch the McCollum Scholars Program, a needs-based scholarship program that will provide eleven New Orleans students with $100,000 each (a total commitment of $1.1 million) to pursue four-year degrees. As part of the initiative, McCollum Scholars will also be offered academic coaching services, mental-wellness resources, career preparation and internship placement. The program aims to close the education, literacy and racial wealth gaps through access to quality education, and to create a pathway to obtaining a post-secondary degree.

In March, McCollum opened the CJ McCollum Dream Center at the Westbank Boys & Girls Club of Metro Louisiana. The center, which has been transformed into a dynamic hub of innovation and inspiration, is stocked with new laptops and tablets, smart boards, laser printers, a library, virtual reality headsets and a podcast studio. It is the third Dream Center that McCollum has opened, and the first in Louisiana, where he has resided since joining the Pelicans in February 2022. He has described the centers as a beacon of hope and a safe haven where youth can explore, learn and grow.

Last October, in collaboration with the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights and the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition, McCollum visited the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center and Travis Hill School in New Orleans, which is dedicated to rehabilitation and education in the justice system. The visit included an engaging conversation between McCollum and the youth.  McCollum’s visit was accompanied by Louisiana State Senator Royce Duplessis, who is a strong advocate for juvenile justice reform. McCollum, Sen. Duplessis and leaders from the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition discussed issues youth are facing in the juvenile justice system and explored collaborative solutions to the ongoing commitment of social justice.

McCollum, who also serves as President of the National Basketball Players Association, averaged 20 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 66 games for the Pelicans this season.

Below is the complete list of winners of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.

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