Feb. 21, 2007
UCLA Hall of Fame soccer player Cobi Jones will be honored by The Paralysis Project of America on Saturday, Feb. 24 with one of four Sports Legends Awards.
The award ceremony, which is open to the public, will take place at The Omni Hotel in Los Angeles. Other honorees for the Sports Legend Award are swimmer Diana Nyad, jockey Ron Turcotte and baseball player Dave Winfield. Hall of Fame sports broadcast and Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully will be presented with the annual John R. Wooden Lifetime Achievement Award.
The 16th Annual Sports Legend Award ceremony is presented by the Paralysis Project of America to benefit spinal cord research. The event will be emceed by veteran Los Angeles sportscaster Tom Kelly. The festivities kick off with a reception, autographs and silent auction beginning at 5:45 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and the awards presentation at 8 p.m. The ceremony features video biographies and sports highlights, compiled and produced by Raintree Productions, and then built into an acclaimed multimedia program by John Leverence, senior vice president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. This program is designed to bring back the memories of the outstanding careers recorded by each Sports Legend honoree.
Sports Legends Awards honorees are selected annually for their contributions to sports by the Paralysis Project of America's Business and Sports Councils. Headed by chairman Bob Seagren, the Sports Council includes former Sports Legends Award winners Pepper Davis, Jim Hill, Rafer Johnson, Jim Knaub, Jack Kramer, Ann Meyers-Drysdale, Joe Morgan, Don Newcombe, Bill Sharman, Gary Stevens, Al Unser, Rogie Vachon, Jamaal Wilkes and John R. Wooden.
"It is truly humbling when legendary sports superstars like this year's honorees are so generous with their time in bringing awareness to the serious need for spinal cord research," says Catherine Lepone, executive director of The Paralysis Project of America. "The involvement of these Legends in the Sports Legends Awards is a shining personal tribute to everyone who has suffered a life-altering injury that impedes their ability to walk or compete in sports activities as they once did. We sincerely appreciate their efforts."
"This is the 16th edition of The Sports Legends Awards ceremony and it's always served as a tremendous occasion for the public to meet and mingle with some of the most valued sports greats of our time," says David G. Geffen, president of The Paralysis Project of America Board of Directors. "Another key component of the event is the opportunity for the public to bid on a wide collection of sports and entertainment memorabilia, which directly supports important fund raising efforts for spinal cord research."
A few of this year's Sports Legends auction memorabilia items will include: an exclusive two-ticket package to the IRL's 2007 Indianapolis 500, complete with two Gasoline Alley pit passes and dinner with celebrities and Andy Granatelli, as well as numerous group ticket and luxury box packages for the Los Angeles Clippers, Kings, Avengers and Galaxy. Tickets to the 2007 Prime Time Emmy Awards also will be on the auction block.
Jones, a product of UCLA and Westlake High School, is one of the most decorated and recognizable soccer players in the world. Jones is the all-time leader of the U.S. Soccer national team in appearances, and played for the national team in numerous FIFA World Cups, as well as the 1992 Olympic Summer Games in Barcelona, Spain. As a professional, Jones has had a successful career in Major League Soccer (MLS) with the Los Angeles Galaxy. He is the franchise's all-time leader in goals and games played, and helped lead the Galaxy to the MLS Cup in 2002. He was named to the All-Star team in each of the first nine MLS seasons, and remains the only player in MLS history to play for the same team since the inception of the league in 1996. At UCLA, he went from walk-on to All-American and led the Bruins to the 1990 NCAA Championship. During his senior season, he tied the single-season school record with 18 assists.
Scully, a 1949 graduate of Fordham University, joined Hall of Fame announcer Red Barber and Connie Desmond as part of the Brooklyn Dodgers' broadcast team in 1950. In 1982, 32 years later, Scully reached the pinnacle of his sparkling 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 July 2000, Scully was elected as the top sportscaster of the 20th century by more than 500 national members of the American Sportscasters Association. His 58 years of consecutive service with the Dodgers is the longest tenure of any current sports broadcaster with one team. In addition to Scully's Dodger broadcasts, the multi-talented broadcaster called play-by-play for National Football League games and PGA Tour events on CBS-TV from 1975-82 and play-by-play for Major League Baseball's Game of the Week, three World Series and four All-Star Games on NBC-TV from 1983-89. Scully also called play-by-play action for the World Series on CBS Radio from 1990-97. All told, he has called 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games.
Nyad, a graduate of Lake Forest College, was arguably considered the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world for 10 years (from 1969-1979). In 1979, she stroked the longest swim in history, making the two-day, non-stop, 102.5 mile journey from the Island of Bimini (Bahamas) to Florida in a world record that still stands today. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1986, the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2003, and the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. In the 1980's, Nyad embarked upon an illustrious career in television, radio, and print. She has served as a senior correspondent for Fox Sports News, hosted her own show on CNBC, and announced numerous sporting events for ABC Sports including three Olympic Games.
Turcotte, a native of Drummond, New Brunswick, rode the backs of some of the most famous Thoroughbreds in history during his spectacular 18-year career between 1960 and 1978, riding 3,032 winners and recording 2,897 seconds and 2,559 thirds while posting total earnings of $28,606,490. He won the Triple Crown on Secretariat in 1973, becoming only the second Canadian jockey to do so. Turcotte also won the Kentucky Derby two times, aboard Riva Ridge and Secretariat. He was named French Canadian Athlete-of-the-Year in 1973 and was the first person from Thoroughbred racing ever to be appointed a member of the Order of Canada. His riding career came to a tragic and abrupt end on July 13, 1978, when he was injured in a race at Belmont Park, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Two years later in 1980, Turcotte was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Winfield, of St. Paul, Minn., and a pitcher at the University of Minnesota, became the first athlete in history to be drafted in three professional sports: basketball, football and baseball. After being named MVP of the 1973 College World Series, Winfield chose a career in baseball that lasted 22 seasons and culminated with his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2001. The left fielder played for six major league teams - San Diego Padres (1973-1980), New York Yankees (1981-1988, 1990), California Angels (1990-1991), Toronto Blue Jays (1992), Minnesota Twins (1993-1994) and Cleveland Indians (1995) - and batted .283 overall with 465 home runs and 3,110 hits. He was a 12-time All-Star Game selection and seven-time Gold Glove winner and helped lead the Toronto Blue Jays to their first World Series Championship in 1992.
Complete ticket information for the 16th Annual Sports Legends Awards can be obtained by contacting Nicole Levitt of the Wide Angle Group at (310) 930-1858. Online registration also is available through The Paralysis Project of America's web site at www.paralysisproject.org. Net proceeds benefit The Paralysis Project of America, founded by the parents of young people paralyzed by spinal cord injury, along with others dedicated to finding the ultimate cure for paralysis.