We are pleased to announce the 2014 Honorees:
Jim Brown is known worldwide for his Hall of Fame football exploits and gained even more acclaimed notoriety as an accomplished actor. However, he has also boldly stood up for civil rights, fighting for equality and against injustice with necessitated courage and uncompromising integrity. It was Brown who rallied the premiere athletes of the 1960s to support Muhammad Ali’s right to conscientiously object to serve in the Vietnam War, and he marshaled those same forces to confirm Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s inalienable right not to participate in the 1968 Olympics.
At the height of his football playing days, Brown went above and beyond to do what few others of his fame would do at the time: he gave back by starting the Negro Industrial Economic Union in the early 1960s. Under Brown’s leadership, more than 400 businesses and thousands of jobs were created through the Negro Industrial Economic Union. He assembled a cadre of professionals who applied their expertise in economic development to the mission of creating businesses and jobs in black communities, which assisted the Negro Industrial Economic Union in raising millions of dollars in urban communities.
In 1966 he transitioned from the gridiron to the silver screen and displayed the same commitment to affecting positive social change. It was then through the entertainment industry that Brown effectively extended his launch for social change. He used his platform as a film star and football legend to start businesses in Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to perhaps millions of fans, it was Brown’s entertainment management company that launched the career of the elements better known as Earth, Wind & Fire. He had a hand in bringing The Temptations out to the West Coast, and one of his ventures, Maverick Flats, a legendary nightclub on Crenshaw Boulevard, invigorated that stretch of South Los Angeles. Further expanding his global iconic stature, Brown, seeing the plight of the streets of Los Angeles due to escalating violence among young people of color, founded the Amer-I-Can Life Management Skills program in 1988. This is where Brown, who came up with $300,000 of his own money to start the life skills management program, has created perhaps his greatest legacy. Through the Amer-I-Can program, Brown has unleashed a model curriculum that reflects on self-accountability and self-determination. The Amer-I-Can’s 15-chapter, 60-hour curriculum has been taught in 16 states, the Caribbean and several African countries. Since the establishment of the program, Amer-I-Can has changed and saved thousands of lives, reaching over the walls of correctional institutions and detention facilities to reintegrate men and women who willing to change themselves and their communities back into society. The teaching and philosophy of Amer-I-Can has been so effective that law enforcement agencies have embraced it, elected officials across the country have supported it, and entities, such as professional sports teams, believe in it.
Brown is arguably one of the greatest athletes of the 20th Century, and he was a trailblazer and pioneer in Hollywood by becoming the first African American actor portrayed in a leading role in action films, starring in such notable films such as “Three the Hard Way,” 100 Rifles, “Slaughter,” and the “Dirty Dozen.” However, all of those accomplishments pale in comparison to his ongoing legacy within the realm of saving and changing lives. Brown is a drumbeat for justice, a community activist and a quintessential humanitarian, and that is a legacy that will endure.
SUGAR RAY LEONARD
Sugar Ray Leonard won the gold medal in light-welterweight boxing at the 1976 Olympic Games, and went pro the following year. His 1987 defeat of “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler for the World Boxing Council’s middleweight title is considered one of the greatest professional boxing matches of all time. Leonard retired in 1997, and was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame.
Leonard was quick and deft. More importantly, he was eager to learn. In 1973, the fruits of his labor started to pay off. He won the National Golden Gloves that year, and a year later, he was crowned the national Amateur Athletic Union champion.
Over the course of his successful amateur career, Leonard won three National Golden Gloves titles, two AAU championships and the 1975 Pan American title. At the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, he vaulted to celebrity status by overcoming severe hand injuries to win the gold medal in the light-welterweight (139-pound) division.
As a pro, Leonard matched the same success he’d had as an amateur fighter. In November 1979, he won the World Boxing Council’s welterweight title, and over the next decade, he fought in some of boxing’s most memorable bouts, winning nearly all of them. His victories included wins over Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns.
Leonard retired in 1984, but a few years later, in 1987, stepped back into the ring to upset “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler for the middleweight crown. To this day, the ‘87 Leonard-Hagler bout is widely considered one of the greatest fights in boxing history. Leonard retired from boxing for good in 1997, finishing his pro boxing career with a 36-3-1 record and 25 knockouts. Later that year, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation was established in 2009 by Ray and his wife, Bernadette. The Sugar Ray Leonard Foundation is committed to raising funds for research and awareness towards a cure for Juvenile Diabetes.
Throughout Leonard’s boxing career, he watched his dad and friends struggle with the many complications of diabetes and how it has affected every aspect of their life. Type 1 diabetes strikes both children and adults at any age. It comes on suddenly, causes dependence on injected or pumped insulin for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications. Type 2 diabetes in children is on the rise, fueled largely by the obesity epidemic.
Leonard draws from his personal experience and boxing career to provide inspiration for funding research to combat the disease.
Hall of Famer, Vin Scully’s 64 years of consecutive service with the Dodgers is the longest of any sports broadcaster with one team. Scully continues to rewrite the record book of his trade each and every time he goes on the air. With awards and accolades beyond comprehension, Scully added “Grand Marshal” to his resume this past January when he served as the Grand Marshal of the 125th Rose Parade on New Year’s Day. In January of 2014, Scully won the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association’s best Play-By-Play award for both TV and Radio. In 2013, he was bestowed with the Allan H. “Bud” Selig Executive Leadership Award at the annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation dinner, which is given to those who have made great contributions to the game of baseball.
Scully, whose vivid yet simplistic description of a baseball game has thrilled fans for years, joined Hall of Fame announcer Red Barber and Connie Desmond as part of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ broadcast team in 1950, just a year after graduating from Fordham University. In 1982, 32 years after he called his first Dodger game, he reached the pinnacle of his career in baseball when he was inducted into the Broadcaster’s wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the Ford C. Frick Award recipient. In 2009, Scully was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, which recognizes individuals and programs that have made a significant and lasting contribution to the broadcasting industry. Also in 2009, The American Sportscasters Association selected Scully as the Top Sportscaster of All-Time. Scully also received an honorary Doctor’s of Law degree from Pepperdine, the university’s highest honor. When Scully first began broadcasting in 1950, the Dodgers had yet to win a single World Series and were known affectionately as “Dem Bums.” Three years later, at the age of 25, he became the youngest person to ever broadcast a World Series game and in 1955, he had his most memorable moment behind the microphone, as he called the Dodgers’ first and only championship in Brooklyn. The following season, Scully once again found himself in the enviable position of calling what he would later say was the greatest individual performance he had seen – Don Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series. His most memorable call for Dodger fans likely came in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, when a hobbled Kirk Gibson’s two-out, two-strike, two-run homer gave the Dodgers a victory over the highly-favored Oakland A’s. “High fly ball into right field, she is gone,” Scully said before remaining silent for more than a minute. The next words he spoke continue to be replayed almost nightly at Dodger Stadium. “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.” He continues to call all Dodger home games and road games in California and Arizona.
In 2009, Scully hosted “Scully & Wooden for the Kids” alongside UCLA coaching legend John Wooden. The once-in-a-lifetime event featured Scully and Wooden sharing insights, philosophies, memories and wisdom before a sold-out audience of more than 7,000 people. Proceeds from the event benefited Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and City of Hope through ThinkCure!, the official charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He and his wife, Sandra, reside in Los Angeles.
KEITH BLACK, M.D.
Dr. Keith Black is Chairman and Professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, Director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, and Director of the Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center at Cedars- Sinai Medical Center. He holds the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neurosciences.
An internationally renowned neurosurgeon and researcher, Dr. Black’s groundbreaking research includes designing ways to open the bloodbrain barrier, enabling chemotherapeutic drugs to be delivered directly into the tumor. His work in this field received the Jacob Javits award from the National Advisory Neurological Disorders and Stroke Council of the National Institutes of Health in June of 2000. Dr. Black and patients undergoing the first clinical trials of the drug, RMP-7, were profiled in 1996 on the PBS program, The New Explorers, in an episode called Outsmarting the Brain. He was featured on the cover of Time magazine in the Fall 1997 special edition of Heroes in Medicine.
Dr. Black’s other groundbreaking research has focused on developing a vaccine to enhance the body’s immune response to brain tumors, use of gene arrays to develop molecular profiles of tumors, the use of optical technology for brain mapping, the use of focused microwave energy to non-invasively destroy brain tumors, and retinal imaging for early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Black published his first scientific paper at age 17, earning the Westinghouse Science Award. He has since published more than 260 peer-reviewed scientific papers and, in March 2009, he published his book Brain Surgeon: A Doctor’s Inspiring Encounters with Mortality and Miracles. Dr. Black recently launched “Dr. Black’s Brain Bar” to increase awareness towards improving brain health.
Dr. Black is committed to providing students opportunities to develop their interest in science and medicine. These outreach programs include Brainworks, an annual event designed to give seventh- and eighth-grade students an opportunity to visit the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute at Cedars-Sinai and explore careers in science and medicine. Another event introduces high school students to the field of stem cell research. The Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars Program provides undergraduate, medical and graduate students opportunities in the field of neuroscience research.
For more information: To learn more about Dr. Black’s Brain Bar, go to trybrainbars.com.