Bulls forward Joakim Noah gets a lot of flack for his aggressiveness on the basketball court, but off the court, he’s considered one of the most caring men in the NBA.
Noah was honored with the 2015 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award on Thursday for his “outstanding service and dedication to the community.” The award is voted by 175 members of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
The NBA released a statement:
Noah, a two-time All-Star center who has spent his entire eight-year career with the Bulls, has dedicated himself to helping children develop a stronger sense of self through his Noah’s Arc Foundation (NAF). The foundation recently launched the “Rock Your Drop: The Drop of Consciousness” anti-violence initiative, which supports those affected by violence and encourages youth to express themselves through creative outlets like sports and art.
NAF also produced the “You’re Not Alone” anti-violence video featuring first-hand stories from those who have lost loved ones to violence, including Noah’s teammates Taj Gibson, Nazr Mohammed and Derrick Rose. Last summer, in his ongoing efforts to raise awareness of gun violence and promote unity in Chicago, Noah and NAF debuted the #ChicagoStandUp public service announcement and hosted a basketball tournament that brought together young men from the south and west sides of the city.
“Joakim’s initiatives to slow the violence in Chicago should inspire us all to help in our communities,” said PBWA President Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “His creative, sustained efforts stood out in perhaps the deepest pool of worthy candidates in the 41-year history of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.”
In March, Noah helped film a documentary about gun violence, and he recruited fellow teammates Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson to talk about their tragic gun violence stories — both Rose and Gibson knew friends who were killed by a gun.
Noah used to celebrate his success on the court with imaginary air-pistols, but that stopped in 2012 when Noah was trying to make a difference in the Chicago community with his “Stand Up” campaign against gun violence.