NEW YORK – The NBA announced today that Dallas Mavericks forward Reggie Bullock, Milwaukee Bucks fullback Jrue Holiday, Memphis Grizzlies center forward Jaren Jackson Jr., Timberwolves center forward Minnesota Karl-Anthony Towns and Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet have been selected as five finalists for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Champion for Social Justice Award 2022. The five finalists represent the year’s most influential social justice advocates who have continued the decades-long tradition of NBA player activism. The annual award recognizes a current NBA player for pursuing social justice and advancing Abdul-Jabbar’s life mission to engage, empower and promote equality for individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized or systematically disadvantaged.
Finalists were determined from the pool of nominees by the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champions Selection Committee, comprised of social justice leaders and NBA Family members. The committee includes inaugural voters Abdul-Jabbar, Director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport Dr. Richard Lapchick, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, President and UnidosUS CEO Janet Murguía, Rise Founder and CEO Amanda Nguyen, and NBA Deputy. Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum, as well as Kendall Dudley, the 2021-22 youth representative who is a member of the Jr. NBA Court of Leaders.
The winner will be announced during the Western Conference Finals on TNT and will receive a $100,000 NBA donation to a social justice organization of their choice. The other four finalists will each select a social justice organization to receive a $25,000 contribution on their behalf. Los Angeles Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony was named the inaugural Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion at the end of the 2020-21 season.
Below is more information about the finalists, including their respective efforts and selected recipients.
About the Social Justice Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar finalists:
Reggie BullockDallas Mavericks
Reggie Bullock has been a strong advocate for LGBTQ equity throughout his NBA career, continuing his efforts with the Dallas Mavericks in the 2021-22 season. Following the 2014 murder of her sister Mia Henderson, who was transgender, Bullock focused on acceptance of all people by striving to create truly inclusive communities through neighborhood engagement and community efforts. events around the LGBTQ movement, including participating in the NYC Pride March, the GLAAD Media Awards and NBA events for LGBTQ youth and their allies. Joining the Mavericks in August 2021, he forged new relationships with organizations that work in the LGBTQ space in the greater Dallas area, including Abounding Prosperity, Dallas Southern Pride, House of Rebirth, The Black-Tie Dinner, the Resource Center and the Muhlashia Booker Foundation.
More recently, as part of the Mavs Take ACTION! initiative, Bullock participated in a courageous conversation as part of the HUDDLE series to uplift the trans community, amplify community organizations working to support and protect LGBTQ people, and create alliance opportunities. Joined by Stephanie Houston, founder of the Muhlashia Booker Foundation and Leslie McMurray, Transgender Education & Advocacy Associate, he fondly remembers his sister Mia and how personal tragedy motivated him to use her platform as a professional athlete to advocate for equal rights and visibility for the LGBTQ community. The session, titled Unheard of Voices, Uplifting Trans Perspectiveswas released on March 31, 2022, March 31, 2022, National Trans Visibility Day. wrote an open letter to the NCAA protesting Idaho’s House Bill 500.
Bullock chose Kinston Teens as the recipient of his donation.
Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks
During the 2021-22 season, Jrue Holiday continued to support Black-led organizations and Black-owned businesses in Milwaukee and beyond. Through the Jrue and Lauren Holiday Social Justice Fund, Holiday has provided funding and support to minority businesses to address the social and economic inequalities that continue to hold Black communities back from progressing. In February 2022, he and his wife launched the third round of grants, committing an additional $1 million to Black-owned businesses and nonprofits in Milwaukee, New Orleans, Indianapolis and Los Angeles.
Working with Renee King, founder of FundBlackFounders, grantees receive coaching and training to expand their fundraising opportunities, including creating crowdfunding campaigns that increase community engagement. Beyond funding and mentorship, Holiday intentionally partners with organizations that recognize the 360-degree model of providing funds, programs and services and is seen as a leader in building stronger communities focused on economic development. In addition to his philanthropy and commitment to minority-owned small businesses in Wisconsin, Holiday has been an active champion and advocate for statewide voting rights awareness through the Bucks Initiative. Vote, reaching hundreds of thousands of eligible voters through statewide public service announcements. . Holiday chose Urban Underground as the recipient of her donation.
Holiday chose Urban Underground as the recipient of her donation.
Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
For the past several years, Jaren Jackson Jr. has focused on promoting health and economic equity in black and brown communities, creating women’s empowerment initiatives, and raising voter awareness. Understanding the impact of the pandemic on communities of color, Jackson Jr. has worked to provide custom masks to black and brown families, provide PPE to communities, provide meals to those working at COVID testing sites, and use his voice in the NBA’s COVID-19 public service announcement to encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Additionally, Jackson Jr. continues to support women’s empowerment initiatives and recently completed her third year as an ambassador for the Nike Game Growers Program, an exclusive opportunity for 7th and 8th grade girls to share their thoughts on how to encourage more girls to play sports. It also sponsored all local women-led organizations for Women’s History Month through the Grizz Ticket Assist program and covered the cost of tickets, transportation, and snacks for local college teams to attend. at the University of Memphis women’s basketball games.
Jackson Jr. is also passionate about civic engagement and upon entering the league made it a point to make it clear that he was voting for the first time in the 2018 season. has been incredibly visionary in supporting election campaigns and raising awareness ahead of the 2020 election, and over the past election season has supported several ballot campaigns including BET’s National Black Voters Day, Secretary’s Campaign of State of Tennessee, Your Vote Matters Campaign and the Grizzlies #GrizzVotes Campaign. Additionally, in November 2021, he committed $7,500 to help 13 families eliminate their overdue housing and utility bills and launched his first social media fundraising campaign to support young Memphians in the midst of ascent on Donation Tuesday. Through this “Much Required” campaign, he raised nearly $200,000 in one day to add to his personal donation to help support local youth organizations including Arts Memphis, Girls Inc., Memphis Slim House, Vance Avenue Youth Development Center and Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis.
He chose Rock the Vote as the recipient of his donation.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony Towns has dedicated his time, platform and resources to health equity and education since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and specifically last season advocating for education on vaccines after suffering a personal loss. Cities worked with the NBA on a PSA vaccine released in February 2022, Cue Health to provide 100 COVID-19 test kits and tests to more than 50 schools in New Jersey and Minnesota, and Walgreens on their Get a Shot, Give a Shot campaign to promote flu shots and help ensure access for all with a $5,000 donation.
Beyond health equity, Towns donated $20,000 to the George Floyd Foundation in partnership with JD Sports in July 2021 and donated $30,000 to the Vera Institute of Justice, which s works to end the overcriminalization and mass incarceration of people of color, immigrants and people. in poverty, selecting them as beneficiaries in Celebrity Wheel of Fortune. Additionally, to support gender equity and women’s access to sport, Towns made a donation to Kean University in New Jersey to support their female student-athlete programming focusing on empowerment and the internships, naming the series after his late mother, Jacqueline Towns. He continues to serve as a board member of the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition.
Towns chose the George Floyd Memorial Foundation as the recipient of his donation.
Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors
Fred VanVleet has been a leader and champion for social justice, inspiring his teammates to find their own voice in his pursuit. To create equity in education, he established the Fred VanVleet Scholarship in December 2021, a full-tuition scholarship for a Black or Indigenous student to pursue four years of higher education in Canada and receive mentorship from VanVleet to help shape the student’s reality after their college career. Additionally, through the Heart of the City initiative, he distributed more than 1,000 backpacks to historically marginalized students in the Greater Toronto Area and provided them with the resources needed to succeed academically. VanVleet also hosted a conversation with Marci Ien, Minister for Women, Gender Equality and Youth, to continue her alliance with women.
VanVleet also co-organized the bet on yourself social justice podcast, dedicated to spotlighting and uplifting struggling or up-and-coming BIPOC entrepreneurs, shaping their business to positively impact culture. Along with his advisor, Derek Folk, they supported business owners and listeners with insight, motivation, and honest conversations around entrepreneurship, branding, finance, and e-commerce. Additionally, he leads the Raptors’ Social Justice Team Council, which examines social justice involvement and actions, and has inspired teammates to engage in their own work for marginalized communities, including the stock market. by Scottie Barnes and “Coding for Champions” program. VanVleet is currently creating an additional fellowship in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois and planning the next season of the Bet on Yourself podcast to encourage BIPOC entrepreneurs. He chose Penny Appeal Canada as the recipient of her donation.