JERUSALEM (JTA) — Former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire was honored with the Martin Luther King Jr. Award in Israel for his philanthropy and leadership in building bridges among communities.
The award was presented Sunday to Stoudemire, who now plays professionally for Hapoel Jerusalem.
The honor from the State of Israel, Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York is presented annually in celebration of Black History Month to individuals who embody the spirit and ideals of King through their efforts to promote diversity and tolerance.
In Israel, Stoudemire recently held a basketball peace camp that brought together children from Israel’s Jewish, Arab and Ethiopian communities, and hosted his annual “In the Paint” series, which allows young people to explore their creative talents through art and basketball.
Stoudemire’s foundation, which he runs with his wife, Alexis, actively supports at-risk youth around the world, aiming to eliminate poverty through education.
“I am truly honored to be receiving this amazing award,” Stoudemire said in a statement. “It is very gratifying to know that all the work that the Alexis and Amar’e foundation has done over the years is not overlooked. I am blessed to be able to give back to the community, that’s what it’s all about.”
Past recipients include former New York City Mayor David Dinkins; jazz artist Lionel Hampton; author Toni Morrison; opera singer Jessye Norman; entrepreneur and philanthropist Russell Simmons; musician and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte; Dr. Clarence B. Jones, the co-author of King’s famed “I Have a Dream” speech, and King’s son, human rights advocate Martin Luther King III.
“Israel is proud to be the only nation outside of the United States to officially commemorate Martin Luther King Day,” said Dani Dayan, consul general of Israel in New York. “We treasure Dr. King’s belief in the significance of the relationship between the African-American and Jewish communities, as we continue to fight together against hatred and xenophobia.”