Ben McLemore wins NBA’s Community Assist Award
Ben McLemore has improved greatly on the court this season. The 21-year-old is figuring out the NBA game one day at a time and his potential is unlimited. Not only is McLemore growing as a player, but his influence off the court in both Sacramento and St. Louis is being felt as well.
The second-year guard out of the University of Kansas made Christmas very special for plenty of underprivileged youths, and for that he is being recognized. Today the NBA announced that McLemore has won the prestigious NBA Cares Community Assist Award for the month of December.
According to the Kings’ official release, “The award recognizes an NBA player each month who best reflects the passion the league and its players have for giving back to their communities.”
Most people know McLemore’s story. Raised in extreme poverty in St. Louis, the NBA meant more than just fame and fortune. It gave him an opportunity to better his life and the lives of the people around him. During December, that extended to him playing Santa Claus for a group of kids who would have gone without during the Christmas season.
“When I was growing up, my family didn’t have much, so it’s always been extremely important for me to give back and help wherever I can,” said McLemore through the team’s official press release. “To have the opportunity to be a role model for young kids is an honor that I take very seriously, and I’m just blessed to be in this position to help.”
It’s not the first time McLemore has put his newfound fame to use. During his first summer as a pro, McLemore established a nonprofit organization called “All 4 Kids” to provide healthy meals for children in need.
On the court, McLemore is having a much improved year in his second season in the league. Through 38 games, the high-flier is averaging 11.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 33.1 minutes per game. After shooting just 37.6 percent from the field as a rookie, he has improved that number to 46.3 percent in his second season and he is hitting 36.5 percent of his 3-point shots.
Last January, McLemore was left off the roster for the NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend. While he participated in the Slam Dunk Contest, that’s not the event for which he really wanted an invite. This season, he is hoping to compete in an actual game against some of the best young players in the game.
“It’s not my decision. I just have to keep going out there and performing,” McLemore told Cowbell Kingdom of his chances of making the team.
“I just have to keep working hard, like what I’ve been doing this year,” McLemore continued. “I know everybody sees improvement and I see it myself. I have to keep working, keep improving.”
Night in and night out, McLemore is asked to guard some of the most athletic players in the league. His improvement on both ends of the floor is dramatic after a rough showing in his rookie season.
McLemore is finding his way in the NBA game. But maybe more importantly, he has a firm grasp on the responsibility that comes with being a professional athlete.
Photo’s by Michelle Lara