by KEVIN DING
One year after Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) won it, Lakers teammate Pau Gasol is a finalist for the NBA’s highest honor for citizenship and community service.
Gasol is one of four finalists for the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, voted on by the Pro Basketball Writers Association. The award is presented annually to one NBA player, coach or trainer for outstanding service away from the game, and the other finalists are Orlando’s J.J. Redick, Dallas’ Jason Terry and Atlanta’s Josh Smith.
Gasol has been a UNICEF ambassador for seven years, most recently participating in the El Rey Theater’s “Play List with the A-List,” where celebrities sing karaoke in order to raise funds for UNICEF. (Gasol pretty credibly sang “How to Save a Life” by The Fray. See below for the video.) Gasol also recently released an iBook in three different languages with all proceeds benefiting UNICEF.
He works with UNICEF on education and nutrition for kids all around the world, with this 2010 column of mine illustrating his experience dipping a finger into special formula in Ethiopia and personally nursing a severely malnourished year-old baby who has lost his mother. Gasol plans on making another field-work visit with UNICEF after he plays for Spain in the Olympic Games in London this summer.
Gasol began his basketball career in his native Barcelona taking medical-school classes and playing pro ball at the same time, becoming a doctor standing as his initial aspiration but giving way to hoops. He is a partner now with Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, doctors there almost viewing him as a surgical colleague and his observation and actual help during a girl’s spinal surgery recently promoted again in an HBO “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” feature.
Gasol in March also went to Memphis’ St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where he has spent a lot of hours during his pre-Lakers career with the Memphis Grizzlies. His visit with the kids there was the basis for my column about Gasol focusing on what he can do for people and himself in this strange season that began with him nearly traded.
Link: http://lakers.ocregister.com/2012/05/01 ... ard/71561/