Pau Gasol, who chose to play professional basketball instead of pursuing a career in medicine, was voted the 2011-12 winner of the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
The award, named after the NBA’s second commissioner, is presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The annual award is given to the trainer, coach, or player who exhibits outstanding service and dedication to the community.
In regards to Gasol’s achievement, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, who is also the president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, was quoted by NBA.com having said:
“Pau’s work epitomizes all that is good about NBA players and their charitable works not only in their own communities but around the world. Working to help children realize their potential and to provide them with opportunities they might not otherwise get truly characterizes outstanding service and dedication.”
Gasol has served as a UNICEF ambassador for the past seven years and as such, he has traveled the world in the off-season in order to work with programs focused on education and nutrition for children, LA Times reported.
The 2010-11 winner of the Walter J. Kennedy Citizenship Award was Ron Artest, also of the Los Angeles Lakers. Prior to Gasol and Artest of the Lakers receiving of the prestigious award, Samuel Dalembert of the Philadelphia 76ers received the citizenship award.
Gasol is scheduled to play for Spain in the 2012 Olympic Games held in London, England between July 29 and August 12. The professional athlete attended medical school at Spain’s University of Barcelona. His maintained interest in the field of healthcare has resulted in his having witnessed a spinal surgery back in 2010.
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