Jameer Nelson has won the Rich and Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award, the Magic and the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation announced at tonight's 23rd Annual Black Tie and Tennies Charity Gala.
The award recognizes the community efforts of players off the court to "enhance others' lives." The past award winners are a who's who of Magic greats and include Nick Anderson, Anfernee Hardaway, Darrell Armstrong, Dwight Howard and J.J. Redick. This was Nelson's first time winning the award. The award is in the form of a $50,000 donation from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation a charity of the recipient's choice.
Nelson has long been active in the Orlando community as so many other Magic players are.
Of note (and mentioned in the Magic's release), Nelson has been a constant presence at the Magic's yearly trip to the Coalition for the Homeless around Thanksgiving where the team provides more than 600 meals to needy families during the holiday season. Nelson's work on that front continued where he provided holiday gifts to two families associated with Orange County Public Schools Homeless Division.
Nelson has very much been a part of memorable holidays for families in need.
Family is a big part of Nelson's life. And his charitable work extends well beyond Orlando.
Jameer is not only active within the Orlando community but also returns home to Philadelphia and donates his time and energies to his hometown.
Nelson established the Pete and Jameer Nelson Foundation in honor of his father and works with children both in Philadelphia and Chester and in Orlando to succeed not only on the basketball court but also in the classroom. Nelson's foundation is committed to providing participants in his program with the ability to go to college and succeed in the class room. The Foundation's special writing and achievement programs help effectuate that goal.
Nelson does so much more though.
Nelson is a devoted father and a great team leader. Fans have had an outpouring of support and gratitude for Nelson for working to resign with the Magic in a year when his fellow draft classmate put the franchise through the ringer in his highly publicized free agency.
The loyalty, if you will, was not forgotten by fans and the organization.
Nelson has been a great leader in the locker room too. He has taken the young players under his wing in many ways and has continued to be a great leader within the organization. On the court, Nelson has had a strong season, averaging 14.7 points per game and a career-high 7.3 assists per game. The 14.7 points per game are his second most in his career behind only his 2009 All-Star season.
It has been a strong year for Nelson. But he probably would not admit that since his team is not winning. And that is where his leadership and expectations for his teammates have proven invaluable. He constantly reminds the players on the team in a constructive manner to improve but never to accept the mentality of a losing team.
The Community Enrichment Award is certainly a long-deserved honor for Nelson.
Glen Davis was also announced as a finalist for the award. I would be remiss if I did not mention the great work Davis has done in the community promoting childhood literacy and nutrition.
Glen's foundation, the Big Baby Davis Foundation, works with children to help them stay in school and away from "defiant behavior." Davis grew up in a single parent household and he considers himself one of the lucky ones to have had helping hands and father figures to help him stay on the right path.
Both Nelson and Davis would have been very worthy winners of this big award. Of course, they probably do not consider the award as the "award" even though recognition is certainly deserved.