Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luol Deng won the 2014 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award on April 15.
"Luol Deng of the Cleveland Cavaliers has been voted the 2013-14 winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, named after the second commissioner of the NBA and presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association to the player, coach or trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.
"The two-time All-Star forward recently recorded a public service announcement for the EnoughProject.org. urging peace during a time of renewed conflict in his native South Sudan.
"In the video, he tells young people,'Look around you, and reach out. Make peace among those who are fighting. Forgive one another and encourage others to forgive.
"'Build trust with people who fear each other. You are young, and if you are wise, you will build bridges with people your age that will last a lifetime. It is not too late to start...but it is not too soon either."
This is Deng's latest venture in terms of international causes. He also established the Luol Deng Foundation, a non-profit organization which uses basketball as a means to reach out to the underprivileged in the United States, United Kingdom and Africa, per the NBA press release.
Deng focuses his efforts in the United States in cities he has played in, particularly Chicago and Cleveland. He sponsors holiday charities which provide food and toys for less-privileged individuals.
On the other hand, Deng's thrust in the United Kingdom is mainly on basketball camps and clinics for the community-at-large, partciularly women and children.
He aims to build basketball courts in Africa to unite local communities.
Upon receiving the award, Deng said it's an honor to be recognized as someobody who truly cares about other people, per the NBA.
"It's an honor to be recognized for any award, but this one is special because it represents who I am as a person and where I come from. What I'm most proud of is that my family can look back after my career is over and realized that I was able to make a difference on and off the basketball court.
"That is something that tells the true story as to who I am as a person, someone who cares about his community and wants to improve the lives of others."
PBWA president Mary Schmitt Boyer asked Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown about Deng winning the award in an article she wrote for The Cleveland Plain Dealer on April 15.
"It's a remarkable thing. I don't know how he does it. You'll applaud him. Obviously, you'll applaud his parents for raising him the way he did.
"It's remarkable and well-deserved. It's an amazing story. I would be surprised if his life story doesn't turn into a Hollywood movie deal some day. It's that special."
Boyer herself said,"The breadth and depth of Luol Deng's community service elevated him from a deep pool of committed candidates. But, really, all the candidates and their communities are winners."
According to the NBA's press release, the other candidates for this year's award include the Miami Heat's Ray Allen, the San Antonio Spurs' Matt Bonner, the Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant, the Toronto Raptors' Amir Johnson, the Atlanta Hawks' Kyle Korver, the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard, the Minnesota Timberwolves' Kevin Love, the Los Angeles Lakers' Steve Nash, the Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah and the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul.
The NBA J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award was first handed out during the 1974-75 season with Wes Unseld of the the-Washington Bullets as the inaugural winner.
Deng joines the likes of Unseld, Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning, David Robinson, Reggie Miller and Kevin Garnett as winners of the accolade.