Cavs' Deng wins NBA citizenship award

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 16 2014 09:11 AM | Updated as of Apr 16 2014 05:11 PM

NEW YORK - British Cleveland Cavaliers' basketball player Luol Deng was honored Tuesday with the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.

The award, presented by the Professional Basketball Writers Association, recognizes an NBA player or coach for outstanding service and dedication to the community.

Deng recently recorded a public service message for the, urging peace during a time of renewed conflict in his native South Sudan.

In the video, he tells young people to make peace among those fighting, encourage others to forgive and build trust with people who fear each other.

The two-time All-Star created the Luol Deng Foundation, a global non-profit organization that uses basketball as a platform to give hope to the disadvantaged in Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The work in Africa focuses on building outdoor basketball courts and delivering initiatives to bring together local communities.

In the United Kingdom, where Deng's family moved after fleeing Sudan, the program focuses on providing opportunities to take part in basketball camps and other events with the goal of increasing participation in the sport at both the grassroots and elite levels.

In the United States, Deng's work in the community has largely involved the two cities where he has played in the NBA -- Chicago and Cleveland -- where he provides meals and hosts holiday events for families.

"It's an honor to be recognized for any award, but this one is special because it represents who I am as a person and where I came from," Deng said in a statement released by the Cavaliers.

"What I'm most proud of is that my family can look back after my career is over and realize that I was able to make a difference on and off the basketball court."

Deng was taken seventh overall by Phoenix in the 2004 NBA Draft and spent nine seasons with the Chicago Bulls, who traded him to Cleveland in January.

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