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Pelicans veteran CJ McCollum is the recipient of the NBA’s Citizenship Award

Although CJ McCollum has been key to New Orleans’ success this season, helping his team reach the first round of the playoffs, eventually facing Oklahoma City, he has recently been recognized for his efforts outside of the NBA courts. On Monday, the league announced that the veteran guard has been awarded the 2023/24 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.

The Pelicans star won the race against fellow finalist Karen Jackson Jr. of Memphis, Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving, Washington’s Anthony Gill and Heat assistant coach Caron Butler. This honor is presented annually by the PBWA “to an athlete, coach or sports coach who demonstrates outstanding service and dedication to the community.”

According to McCollum, the most important thing in life is to serve others, especially when he can feel the gratitude and impact of his contributions. “Helping people is the greatest gift in the world,” CJ told the media.

“And of all the things I’ve been able to do in my life, the greatest joy I get is seeing people sincerely appreciate you, whether it’s conversations, whether it’s life, whether it’s resources, whether it’s an opportunity,” he added.

The 32-year-old continued to explain the great reward of helping others. “Seeing the way some of these children look and on the faces of their families and my interactions with them is something I will cherish forever,” said the player. And honestly seeing how everyone has appreciated me in helping people has taught me a lot of empathy.”

One of his most important projects was his partnership with the nonprofit College Beyond to launch the McCollum Scholars Program in January. This program awards $100,000 to 11 students from New Orleans to pursue a four-year degree.

The Ohio native had a campaign to remember this year, as his contributions on the court also made an impact. The athlete competed in 66 games this regular season, and scored 20 points on 45.9% shooting from the field and 42.9% from beyond the arc, along with 4.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.

McCollum is involved in many projects that involve supporting the dreams of young people through educational programs in Louisiana.

In addition to his $1.1 million commitment to College Beyond and his McCollum Scholars program, the player also opened the CJ McCollum Dream Center at the Westbank Boys & Girls Club of Metro Louisiana.

This is the third Dream Center opening in the United States, but the first in New Orleans since being sold by Portland in 2022.

The veteran star “described these centers as a beacon of hope and a safe place where young people can explore, learn and grow.” The latest facility in Louisiana includes new tablets, virtual reality headsets, laptops and a library.

“There are many awards you can win in this league, and most of them focus on your talent and what you have achieved on the field. And this award is very big,” CJ told the media this week. “It’s a combination of many different things in terms of impact, sacrifice, serving people.”

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