NEW YORK – The NBA announced today that Miami Heat guard Daequan Cook has been named the recipient of the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for the 2009 offseason in recognition of his outstanding efforts in the community and for his ongoing philanthropic and charitable work.
Cook is being honored, in part, for the support that he provided to an Ohio family who lost their son in a tragic accident last summer. On June 13, 12-year-old DaQuan Sales had just submitted his application to attend the Daequan Cook Basketball Camp and was excited about meeting his NBA idol, Cook, when he was the victim in a fatal hit-and-run accident while riding his bicycle in Dayton, Ohio. When Cook read about the youngster’s death, he reached out to the Sales family to offer his condolences and assistance. Cook, who grew up in the same neighborhood as DaQuan, provided support to DaQuan’s family and friends by assisting with the funeral costs, inviting 10 of DaQuan’s young friends to attend his basketball camp and contributing to the Be Safe/Wear A Helmet program at DaQuan’s school, Fairview Elementary School. The program was established in memory of DaQuan to promote bicycle safety and provide all 450 students with helmets. Cook’s relationship with the Sales family has continued to grow and he recently announced plans to establish a college scholarship fund in DaQuan Sales’ name.
“My mother always reminded me to never forget where I came from. It’s important to help those in need and when the moment presents itself–step up,” Cook said regarding his relationship with the Sales family. “You always get a sign from somewhere, and I felt that this was my sign.”
When asked about Cook’s outreach, DaQuan’s mother, Janell Sales, responded, “He [Cook] said, ‘You can’t get rid of me now; I’m part of your family.’ We’ve been pretty low, as you can imagine. That helped pick us up. Seeing how he cared helped us.”
Cook also participated in several team outreach events throughout the offseason, including a Learn to Swim Surprise Visit and the HP Digital Assist program tip-off event. Through the HEAT Learn to Swim community swim safety campaign, the team, in partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida and the American Red Cross, encourages area youngsters to learn to swim. In July, Cook made a surprise visit to boys and girls during their morning swimming lessons at Miami’s Morningside Pool and, with an assist from American Red Cross lifeguards, provided the group with some important water safety instructions. The following month, Cook and teammate Udonis Haslem headed to Nautilus Middle School to deliver HP computers and printers to students as part of the league’s new HP Digital Assist program. The innovative education grant program inspires learning through sports and technology and provides more than 5,000 students across the country with the chance to help their schools win more than $450,000 in HP technology, player visits, and much more.
As an NBA Cares Community Assist Award recipient, Cook will receive the David Robinson Plaque with the inscription, “Following the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson who improved the community piece by piece.” In addition, a $5,000 donation will be given by the NBA to Cook to support the soon-to-be established DaQuan Sales Scholarship Fund.
The league presents the NBA Community Assist Award monthly throughout the season and once following each offseason to recognize players for their year round charitable efforts. The award honors the NBA player who best reflects the passion that the league and its players have for giving back to their communities.
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