NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, a seven-year NBA veteran, was named Wednesday as this year’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
The media panel annually awards the honor, named for a former NBA commissioner, to an NBA player, coach or trainer showing outstanding community service and dedication.
Lillard was given the award for his work within supporting and inspiring high school students as well as boosting an anti-bullying message in Portland.
Lillard, taken by Portland with the sixth overall selection of the 2012 NBA Draft, began the program in 2013 after Portland school officials sought a more positive student culture.
Lillard has attended school assemblies and class discussions and given successful students in the program such rewards as a tour of team facilities, game tickets and team merchandise while teachers have reported improved behavior and attendance.
Lillard, 28, averaged 25.8 points, a career-high 6.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds for the Trail Blazers last season to earn a fourth NBA All-Star selection. Portland reached the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2000.
Other finalists for the award included Charlotte Hornets center Bismack Biyombo from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker, Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
© Agence France-Presse