Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol on Friday was named the winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, given annually by the Pro Basketball Writers Association.
Gasol was honored for his global work for UNICEF causes. According to the PBWA, he has been a UNICEF ambassador for seven years, traveling the world and working with programs aimed at nutrition and education for children.
Gasol, who has said he wants to be a doctor when his NBA career is over, is the third international player in the last four years to win the award, joining Dikembe Mutombo (2009) and Samuel Dalembert (2010). He is the second straight Laker to win the award, following Metta World Peace.
“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,” said PBWA president and Toronto Star writer Doug Smith. “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 won over fellow finalists Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks, Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks and J.J. Redick of the Orlando Magic.
The PBWA has 150 newspaper, magazine and internet members who voted on the award, which is named after the NBA’s second commissioner and is given to the NBA player, coach or trainer who displays outstanding service and dedication to the community.