The NBA announced Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns was named a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion Award. The annual award honors a current NBA player for pursuing social justice and upholding the league’s values of equality, respect and inclusion.
“I am incredibly humbled to be named a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion finalist,” said Towns. “Equity across all spheres – health, social and civic is central to me as a person and as a player in this league. I join inspiring company in my fellow finalists and will continue to be an active participant in the advancement of social justice.”
Towns has devoted his time, platform and resources to health equity and education since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This past season he became a prominent advocate for vaccine education following the loss of his mother, Jacqueline Towns. Towns worked with the NBA for the league’s vaccine PSA released in February, Cue Health to provide 100 COVID-19 testing kits to more than 50 schools in both New Jersey and Minnesota, and Walgreens on their Get a Shot, Give a Shot campaign to promote flu shots and help ensure access to anyone who wants one via a $5,000 donation.
Towns donated $20,000 to the George Floyd Memorial Foundation in partnership with JD Sports in July 2021 and attended rallies throughout the Minneapolis community. As part of his Celebrity Wheel of Fortune appearance, Towns selected Vera Institute of Justice as his beneficiary, making a $30,000 donation. Vera Institute of Justice works to end the overcriminalization and mass incarceration of people of color, immigrants and people experiencing poverty.
Additionally, in support of gender equity and access for women in sports, Towns made a donation to Kean University in New Jersey to support programming for their women student athletes highlighting empowerment and internships, naming the series in honor of his late mother. He continues to serve as a board member of the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition.
The NBA will make a $25,000 contribution to a non-profit community organization selected by each finalist. The winning player’s organization will receive $100,000. As a finalist, Towns has selected the George Floyd Memorial Foundation as the recipient of his donation.
Fred VanVleet (TOR), Jaren Jackson Jr. (MEM), Jrue Holiday (MIL), and Reggie Bullock (DAL) join Towns as this year’s five Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion finalists. The winner will be announced during the Western Conference Finals.
(info courtesy of Timberwolves and NBA)