Showing posts with label sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sports. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Legendary R&B Singer Bobby Caldwell Passes Away at 71

Legendary R&B singer Bobby Caldwell, known for his chart-topping hits "What You Won't Do For Love" and "Open Your Eyes," has died at the age of 71.

Caldwell's wife Mary confirmed his death on Wednesday via his official Twitter account.

"Bobby passed away here at home. I held him tight in my arms as he left us. I am forever heartbroken. Thanks to all of you for your many prayers over the years," she wrote.

Caldwell had been suffering from health issues for the past six years after experiencing an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, a condition known as "floxed," according to treatment center Regenerative Medicine LA.

Born on August 15, 1951, in New York City, Caldwell was known for his unique ability to blend jazz, R&B and pop into his music.

His soulful hits, including "What You Won't Do for Love," "My Flame" and "Coming Down From Love," earned him worldwide recognition and numerous accolades, including a 1978 Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance.

Caldwell's music has been sampled by a wide range of artists, including 2Pac, Aaliyah, Kendrick Lamar, the Notorious B.I.G. and Lil Nas X.

Perhaps his most famous track, "What You Won't Do For Love," appeared on his double-platinum self-titled debut album.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Michael Jordan Shatters Records With Jaw-Dropping $10 Million Donation to Make-A-Wish

Photo Courtesy Make-A-Wish 
Basketball legend Michael Jordan broke a record with a $10 million donation to Make-A-Wish in honor of his 60th birthday.
The gift is the largest from an individual in the charity's 43-year history and reflects Jordan's 30-year commitment to the cause.

"For the past 34 years, it's been an honor to partner with Make-A-Wish and help bring a smile and happiness to so many kids," the six-time NBA champion said in a statement. "Witnessing their strength and resilience during such a tough time in their lives has truly been an inspiration."

The organization hopes Jordan's donation inspires others to help grant the wishes of the many children on its waiting list.

"Michael using his birthday as a chance to make history for Make-A-Wish speaks to the quality of his character and his loyal dedication to making life better for children with critical illnesses," said Leslie Motter, the charity's CEO. "We hope that the public will be inspired to follow in his footsteps by helping make wishes come true."

Jordan, now the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, has been an integral part of the organization's efforts since he granted his first wish in 1989.

He has granted hundreds of wishes to children worldwide and has become one of the all-time most requested celebrity wish-granters. In 2008, he was named Make-A-Wish Chief Wish Ambassador.

His donation will establish an endowment to help fund the wishes of children with critical illnesses in the future.

"I can't think of a better birthday gift than seeing others join me in supporting Make-A-Wish so that every child can experience the magic of having their wish come true," Jordan said.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

LeBron James Breaks Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's NBA Scoring Record

LeBron James is now the NBA's all-time scoring leader.

LeBron James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record for most career points in the NBA on Tuesday night.

James, a forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, scored 36 points in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, surpassing Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 points.

Since his rookie season in 2003, James has been a dominant force in the league, averaging over 27 points per game for 12 seasons.

With over 7,300 points in his time with the Lakers, he is on track to reach the 40,000-point milestone before he retires.

Abdul-Jabbar was in attendance to witness the historic moment, 39 years after he set the record. Despite James' pass-first mentality, he now holds the record for most points in NBA history, including regular season and playoffs. He also ranks fifth in the NBA for both regular-season and postseason assists.

Four of the top five all-time scorers in NBA history— James, Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant — have played for the Lakers. Bulls legend Michael Jordan, at No. 5 on the list, is the only exception. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Naomi Osaka is Expecting First Baby With Boyfriend Cordae

Naomi Osaka and Cordae on the cover the March 2021 issue of GQ

Three-time Grammy Award-nominee Cordae and former world No. 1 tennis player Naomi Osaka are having a baby.

Osaka, 25, made the announcement that she and the rapper were expecting Wednesday on social media.

"Can’t wait to get back on the court but here’s a little life update for 2023," she labeled a post on her official Instagram account featuring photos of a sonogram along with a letter to fans in both English and Japanese.

“The past few years have been interesting to say the least, but I find that it’s the most challenging times in life that may be the most fun. These few months away from the sport has really given me a new love and appreciation for the game I’ve dedicated my life to,” it reads.

“I realize that life is so short and I don’t take any moments for granted, every day is a new blessing and adventure. I know that I have so much to look forward to in the future, one thing I’m looking forward to is for my kid to watch one of my matches and tell someone, ‘that’s my mom,’ haha. 2023 will be a year that'll be full of lessons for me and I hope I'll see you guys in the start of the next one cause I'll be at [Australian Open] 2024."

Osaka added, "I don’t think there’s a perfectly correct path to take in life but I always felt that if you move forward with good intentions you’ll find your way eventually."

The announcement sheds new light on Osaka's withdrawal from the upcoming Australian Open, which was announced Sunday by tournament organizers.

It was scheduled to be her first on-court action since September when she played in the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

Osaka and Cordae, 25, have been dating since 2019 after meeting at a Los Angeles Clippers game.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

WNBA Star, Brittney Griner, Is Headed Home After Prisoner Swap With Russia

(Source: Russia 24/CNN)

WNBA star Brittney Griner is coming home.

Griner, 32, was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for possessing two vape cartridges with small amounts of cannabis oil.

Last month, after being found guilty of drug possession and drug smuggling by a Russian judge, she was sent to a penal colony to serve a nine-year sentence.

Today, the US and Russia exchanged the basketball star for arms dealer Viktor Bout. 

Nicknamed the "Merchant of Death," the gun-runner has been languishing in an American prison for the past 12 years after being given a 25-year sentence on charges of conspiring to kill Americans, acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles, and provide material support to a terrorist organization.

Speaking from the White House President Joe Biden celebrated the release of the two-time Olympic gold medalist.

"I'm glad to say Brittney's in good spirits... she needs time and space to recover," he said, noting that she was on a flight home from the United Arab Emirates following the prisoner exchange at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Griner's wife, Cherelle, praised the work of the Biden administration in securing her release.

"Today, I'm just standing here overwhelmed with emotions, but the most important emotion that I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration," she said, standing next to President Biden while speaking from the Oval Office.

She added, "Today my family is whole, but as you all are aware, there's so many other families who are not whole."

Cherelle promised that she and her partner would continue to work to bring every American home, including Paul Whelan, a former Marine who has been detained in Russia on espionage charges since 2018. Then she told the audience of reporters that she was going to do something she had not done in months.

"Thank you everybody for your support, and today's just a happy day for me and my family, so I'm gonna smile right now," she said.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Rihanna Headlining Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show

SIGMACC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Barbadian billionaire musician-cum-fashion mogul, Rihanna, will headline the next Super Bowl halftime show.

The 34-year-old pop star first teased the news Sunday afternoon in a vague Instagram post. She shared a photo of her hand, distinguished only by her iconic tattoos, holding an NFL-branded football.

Jay-Z's music entertainment agency Roc Nation — which oversees the halftime show and includes Rihanna on its roster — reshared the post with a caption that solidified its meaning.

"Let’s GO — @badgalriri @NFL #SBLVII @AppleMusic @NFLonFOX," the label's Instagram caption reads.

The NFL confirmed the news in a joint statement with Roc Nation declaring that the “international icon, entrepreneur and philanthropist” will take center stage at Super Bowl LVII's halftime show in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 12, 2023.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rihanna to the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show stage,” said Seth Dudowsky, NFL Head of Music. “Rihanna is a once-in-a-generation artist who has been a cultural force throughout her career. We look forward to collaborating with Rihanna, Roc Nation and Apple Music to bring fans another historic Halftime Show performance.”

Jay-Z added, “Rihanna is a generational talent, a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn. A person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever. Self-made in business and entertainment."

The selection marks a significant milestone for the musician and new mom who gave birth to her first baby with partner A$AP Rocky in May. In 2019 she turned down the same gig in solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who eventually reached a confidential settlement with the NFL on charges of collusion to keep the civil rights activist out of the league.

“I couldn’t dare do that," she told Vogue in 2019 of the reasoning behind her decision. "For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Robert Sarver Announces Intent to Sell Phoenix Suns, Mercury, Following Exposure of Inappropriate Behavior by NBA Investigation

Robert Sarver

Just over a week after being suspended by the NBA for a year for abusive behavior and fined $10 million, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver has decided to cut ties with the league.

Sarver, the majority stakeholder for both the Suns and the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, announced today he is selling both teams in order not to be a distraction to them.

"As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. I expected that the commissioner's one-year suspension would provide the time for me to focus, make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams that I and so many fans love," said Sarver, who was found in the NBA's probe of his conduct to have said the N-word at least five times, in a statement.

He added, "But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that that is no longer possible – that whatever good I have done, or could still do, is outweighed by things I have said in the past. For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury."

In addition to the use of racial slurs, Sarver was found to have used derogatory language, made sexually charged comments toward and about women and bullied employees in the league's investigation which began after allegations of misconduct in November 2021 triggered it. In all 80,000 emails, texts and videos were examined and the NBA conducted 320 interviews during the probe.

The reaction was immediate, and mostly positive, from players, fans and the NBA itself.

LeBron James, who along with Chris Paul and Draymond Green was one of several elite players from around the league to call for Sarver to sell his teams once the results of the investigation were revealed, took to Twitter to applaud the move.

He tweeted, "I'm so proud to be a part of a league committed to progress!"

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver shared his approval as well.

"I fully support the decision by Robert Sarver to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury," he said in a statement. "This is the right next step for the organization and community."

Watch the video below for more reactions from players around the league:

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Frances Tiafoe Advances to US Open semifinals, First Black Man to Accomplish the Feat Since Arthur Ashe

Photo Credit: Simon Bruty/USTA

Frances Tiafoe defeated ninth-seeded Andrey Rublev, in straight sets 7–6 (3), 7–6 (0), 6–4 on Wednesday to advance to his first career Grand Slam semifinal.

He is the first American man to reach the semifinals in New York since Andy Roddick lost the title match to Roger Federer 16 years ago. Tiafoe, 24, also became the first Black man to advance to a U.S. Open semifinal since 1972.

That was the year tennis icon Arthur Ashe, namesake of the stadium Tiafoe played in during his win over Rublev, accomplished the feat.

His road to history has not been an easy one.

The 22nd seed, Tiafoe previously posted just seven wins against Top 10 opponents during his career coming into the tournament, however, he paved his way to the semifinals with an early-round victory over 14th-seeded Diego Schwartzman and took a stunning four-set upset on Monday against No. 2 Rafael Nadal.

"Man, this is wild, this is crazy," said Tiafoe following the match. "I probably had the biggest win of my life 48 hours ago, now coming out and getting another big win. Andrey is a hell of a player. Backing it up, it’s huge growth. It’s tough to turn a page but I did and now I’m in the semis."

Tiafoe whose career record before the match was 127-137, will face the winner of Wednesday night’s quarterfinals matchup between No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz and No. 11 Jannik Sinner in the men’s singles semifinals on Friday.

If he manages to advance past the semifinal into the championship match, he could become the first American man to win any Grand Slam singles championship since Roddick's U. S. Open victory in 2003, a feat Tiafoe seems confident he can replicate.

“Let’s enjoy this one. We’ve got two more, guys. We’ve got two more [matches to go],” he told the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium to a round of raucous applause.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Jay-Z Produced Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show Wins Three Emmy Awards

Courtesy Roc Nation 

Thanks to the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show, rap superstar Eminem is just one award from completing one of entertainment's most prestigious accomplishments.

The 12-minute show — which brought together fellow hip-hop icons Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige — to perform alongside the 31-time Billboard chart topper — on Feb. 13 at Inglewood, California's SoFi Stadium has won three Emmy Awards.

At the Creative Arts Emmys, held Saturday at the Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, it took home the trophies for Best Variety Special (live), Outstanding Music Direction and Outstanding Production Design For A Variety Special.

"From the beginning, to get a lineup like that of artists, we knew it was going to be historic," said the ad's executive producer Jesse Collins following the win.

He added that the ad — produced by Jesse Collins Entertainment, DPS and Roc Nation — would not have happened without the boss of the latter stepping up to take on the challenge.

"It was something really only [Roc Nation founder] Jay-Z could pull together," Collins said.

While it was an outstanding accomplishment for all the artists involved it may have meant slightly more to Eminem, who thanks to multiple Grammy wins and an Oscar for Best Music (Original Song) for 2003's "Lose Yourself," just needs a Tony Award to earn EGOT status, a rare feat achieved by winning all four of the major American entertainment awards — a feat only 17 people have managed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

A’Ja Wilson Becomes First Female Athlete to Sign Endorsement Deal With Ruffles

Lorie ShaullCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Ahead of the tipoff of the WNBA playoffs tonight, the basketball league's official chip announced a huge endorsement deal for one of the players that will be vying for the championship.

Ruffles announced Las Vegas Aces star forward A’ja Wilson, 26, has signed a multi-year contract with the brand.

"Now, as the Official Chip of the WNBA, we're proud to welcome our first-ever female athlete to our roster with a flavor of her own," Stacy Taffet, senior vice president of marketing, Frito-Lay North America, said of the deal in a statement released by the company. "A'ja embodies what it means to Own Your Ridges, so we're owning our ridges too and elevating our product game as part of this partnership by bringing fans the first-of-its-kind Ruffles Ridge Twists."

The chipmaker added that the deal with the four-time WNBA All-Star would begin with the “game-changing launch of the new Ruffles Ridge Twists product line, including her own signature flavor, Smoky BBQ."

"I grew up eating Ruffles so it's a dream come true to join the family of Chip Deal athletes and have my own signature flavor that's inspired by my Southern roots," Wilson said.

The deal makes the Hopkins, South Carolina, native the first-ever female athlete to represent the brand.

Selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA draft by the Aces, Wilson led the University of South Carolina to its first NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in 2017. The Gamecock's all-time leading scorer, she was named the SEC Player of the Year a record three times in a row and led South Carolina to four consecutive SEC championships.

Wilson was named the WNBA's Rookie of the Year in 2018. She earned league MVP honors in 2020 and won an Olympic gold medal the same year as part of Team USA.

The chips will be available in stores nationwide in the coming weeks and are currently available on in 5.5oz bags for $5.59 and 1.75oz bags for $2.29. Las Vegas heads into the WNBA Playoffs as the league’s top-seeded team. They face off against the Phoenix Mercury at home in Game 1 of the first round at 10 p.m. ET.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Russian Court Gives WNBA Star, Brittney Griner, 9 Year Prison Sentence

(Source: Russia 24/CNN)
WNBA star Brittney Griner was found guilty of drug possession and drug smuggling by a Russian judge on Thursday.

The conviction came with a nine year prison sentence and she was fined 1 million rubles ($16,590).

Griner offered an apology for her behavior ahead of the sentencing.

"I want to apologize to my teammates, my club, my fans and the city of (Yekaterinburg) for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them," she said. "I want to also apologize to my parents, my siblings, the Phoenix Mercury organization back at home, the amazing women of the WNBA, and my amazing spouse back at home."

She added: “I made an honest mistake, and I hope in your ruling it does not end my lifeHope in your ruling it does not end my life."

The two-time Olympic champion testified that she inadvertently placed cannabis cartridges into her bag while “stress-packing” for her trip to Russia, where she was contracted to play basketball for a local team during WNBA’s off-season.

“I want the court to understand that this was an honest mistake that I made while rushing, under stress, trying to recover from COVID and just trying to get back to my team,” Griner said.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Jackie Robinson Museum Finally Opens in Manhattan After 14 years of Planning, Delays

 Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Tuesday, 75 years after Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball's color barrier and became the first Black player of its modern era when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Jackie Robinson Foundation completed its long mission to open a museum in his honor.

Robinson's widow Rachel, who turned 100 in July, was on-hand for the star-studded half-hour celebration, which featured sports and entertainment luminaries including filmmaker Spike Lee and tennis legend Billie Jean King, among others.

Defying the 80-degree-heat in her wheelchair, she then cut the ribbon to officially mark the end of the 14-year-old process that led to the museum's creation and begin a whole new era of appreciation for one of the sport's greatest icons.

"There's nowhere on the globe where dream is attached to our name — or our country's name," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said of the museum's importance to the city while addressing the assembled crowd. "There's not a German dream. There's not a French dream. There's not a Polish dream. Darn it, there's an American dream. And this man and wife took that dream and forced America and baseball to say you're not going to be a dream on a piece of paper, you're going to be a dream in life. We are greater because of No. 42 and because he had an amazing wife that understood that dream and vision."

Originally projected to open in 2010 before delays caused by the Great Recession, and later Covid 19, the museum's location is at 75 Varick Street in Lower Manhattan. It features nearly 20,000 square feet of exhibits and installations honoring the legacy of Robison in baseball and beyond — including his role as a pioneer in the U.S. civil rights movement.

“The issues in baseball, the issues that Jackie Robinson challenged in 1947, they’re still with us,” said Robinson's 70-year-old son David, who joined his mother and sister Sharon (72) for the event. “The signs of white only have been taken down, but the complexity of equal opportunity still exists.”

According to materials provided by the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Jackie Robinson Museum will enhance the JRF's —which was established by Rachel in 1973 — mission to promote higher education, by educating the general public about a man whose words and actions resonate as loudly today as they did during his lifetime:

The Museum will depict Robinson’s extraordinary athleticism and explore his prolific engagement in American life that included civil rights activism, civic engagement, economic empowerment efforts and public commentary. Educational programming for all ages is on the Museum’s agenda as are forums, lectures and other events that address issues central to Robinson’s legacy, such as equal access to education, civic affairs, economic empowerment, the business of sports and race relations.

“The Jackie Robinson Museum is the realization of a dream for my family. My mother has long hoped for a permanent space where people learn about the issues my father cared deeply about and the change he fought hard to affect,” said David Robinson. “We hope the Museum will be a place to not only learn more about his time in baseball and love of sports, but about all that he did to contribute to social progress. We extend our deepest appreciation to everyone who helped make this dream a reality.”

The museum will open to visitors on Labor Day this Sept.26. Guests can expect unprecedented access to over 450 hours of video footage and over 40,000 photos of Robinson on and off the field.

A seven-time All-Star and a World Series champion, Robinson hit .313 with 141 homers and 200 stolen bases in 11 seasons and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1962. MLB retired his number (42) for all major league players in 1997.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Deion Sanders to Donate Half His Salary to Jackson State Football Facility Renovation

Deion Sanders
During his time as a professional athlete, Deion Sanders was known for doing things his way.

Given the choice between a football career and playing baseball after college, he chose to do both and remains the only player to have appeared in both a Super Bowl and a World Series.

His flashy demeanor on and off the field earned him the nickname "Neon Deion," and his penchant for leveling his game up when needed, clenched the star his preferred alias "Prime Time."

So, it comes as no surprise that since joining the college coaching ranks that the man widely considered to be one of the best cornerbacks to ever play in the NFL continues to employ his own unique methodology when it comes to managing a college program.

Much to the delight of Jackson State University fans and alumni, it is one that is paying major dividends for the school on the football field.

Since taking over the head coaching job at the historically Black institution, Sanders, now going by "Coach Prime" at his own request, has led the school to back-to-back winning seasons. In his second season (fall 2021) he coached the Tigers to a program-record 11 wins, the Southwestern Athletic Conference title and was awarded the Eddie Robinson Award as the top Football Championship Subdivision head coach.

Most coaches would let those results speak for them but Sanders — who has encouraged a culture of hard work mixed with some flashes of the over-the-top theatrics that endeared him to some fans and made him a pariah to others in his program —is not most coaches.

He is doubling down on his investment in the program's future.

Monday Sanders, whose personal wealth is estimated to be between $35 and $40 million by various media sources, announced that he will donate half his salary to help finish the school's football operations facility.

"I'll put half on it to get this done," said Sanders, who signed a four-year deal with the school worth an average of $300,000 per year in 2020. "If you don't believe me, check me. I will send you the receipts."

According to Sanders, by making the donation, he hopes to ensure the facility is ready before the season starts. Jackson State will open the season against Florida A&M on Sept. 4 in Miami.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

LeBron James and LIFEWTR Unveil Purpose-Driven Partnership to Inspire Communities

It's not on the same level as "The Decision," but LeBron James' move to PepsiCo in 2021, after nearly two decades with rival Coca-Cola, was a big deal. 

Now the basketball billionaire — who has already played heavily in marketing for PepsiCo brands Mtn. Dew and Ruffles — is expanding his alliance with the company.

Wednesday James and PepsiCo's premium bottled water brand LIFEWTR announced a multi-year partnership. 

The deal will purportedly support the Lakers star's passion for community empowerment, an initiative that holds true to the brand's mission to help people thrive.

"LeBron James' unwavering dedication to uplifting individuals and communities mirrors our mission at LIFEWTR to help people thrive," Zach Harris, Vice President, Water Portfolio at PepsiCo Beverages North America, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to work with him to further the LIFEWTR brand's commitment to helping underrepresented voices flourish."
"I've always loved LIFEWTR and how every detail – from the original art showcased on its bottles to the brand's efforts to champion diverse voices – serves a bigger purpose," James, 37, added. "LIFEWTR is all about inspiring creativity, and I want the kids in my I PROMISE program and people everywhere to be inspired by the exciting work we'll do together."

Specifics of the program were not provided, but LIFEWTR said the collaboration with LeBron will include the debut of dedicated programming that will be announced later this year. It added that the NBA legend and LIFEWTR will work together on such efforts as the LeBron James Family Foundation's mission to “support underserved communities across the U.S.,” and the I Promise School, which James established to “provide a new approach to urban education for underserved students and families in Akron, Ohio.”

The company said the partnership signals the next chapter in James' ongoing relationship with PepsiCo, describing LIFEWTR as having a demonstrated history of supporting diverse communities and the evolution of the partnership is in service of the commitments just like its parent company through The PepsiCo Racial Equity Journey.

According to PepsiCo, the initiative elevates diverse voices within the company, among supply chain partners, and the communities it serves, while helping to dismantle longstanding racial barriers for Black and Hispanic Americans through a $400 million and $172 million investment over five years.

Friday, July 1, 2022

Denzel Washington, Simone Biles Among 17 Medal of Honor Recipients

Gymnastics legend Simone Biles is among 17 Presidential 
Medal of Honor Recipients Announced Friday. 

Gymnastics superstar Simone Biles and actor Denzel Washington are among the 17 people slated to be given the nation's highest civilian honor next week.

President Joe Biden made the announcement Friday that the duo would be among those to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The award is presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.

"These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith," President Biden said in a statement revealing the selections.

He added, "They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come."

Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history, with a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is also a prominent advocate for athletes’ mental health and safety, children in the foster care system, and victims of sexual assault.

Washington is an actor, director, and producer who has won two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also served as National Spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years.

Joining them on the list are US Soccer star Megan Rapinoe, and several posthumous honorees, including Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, and Dr. Julieta GarcΓ­a — the first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president — amongst others.

The awards will be presented at the White House on July 7.

Click here for a complete list of the recipients. 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Former NFL Star and Heisman Winner, Ricky Williams, Unveils Name Change

Photo Credit: Instagram @linneamiron
What's in a name?

For one of the best college football players of all time and the second leading rusher in Miami Dolphin's history, it's respect — just not maybe the way you think.

At least that's one reason why legendary University of Texas running back and one of the NCAA's all-time career rushing yards leaders — Ricky Williams — decided to change his to Errick Miron.

It may seem like a strange choice for the 1998 Heisman winner, whose signature dreadlocks enchanted crowds nearly as much as his unstoppable moves on the field, but on a recent episode of “The Dan LeBetard Show with Stugotz,” Miron said it was all about finding balance.

"My wife is an attorney, so she can handle herself, but I’m the famous one. She’s been used to being the hotshot around her friends, but she comes around me, and people forget she exists," Miron, who revealed he made the name change official over a year ago after he got married to his wife, Linnea Miron, said, "I started thinking of ways to create more balance in our relationship, and one of the things that popped into my head was taking her last name.”

Legally his first name has always been Errick, so the switch from that instead of his nickname Ricky was not exactly world-ending, but the decision to take on his wife's last name was a huge one but ultimately worth it to the No. 2 rusher in Miami Dolphin's history.

“It was quick and easy, and it felt really meaningful,” he said. “In every relationship, you want to have some kind of balance, but in the traditional model, it becomes difficult when the male makes all the money.”

As for his old last name, Miron said that it was never something that was really sacred to him.

“It’s like one of those family secrets,” he said. “Williams was my grandmother’s husband’s name, and he wasn’t my dad’s father, so Williams isn’t really my last name. I find more meaning in this last name than Williams.”

While Miron and his wife have made peace and are happy with the change, it might be some time before it catches on. The former NFL star, lifestyle guru and sometimes sports commentator sells cannabis under his old name —something that is unlikely to change soon.

Monday, April 11, 2022

NFL, Ohio State Mourn Tragic Death of Dwayne Haskins

Courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers 
The football world is still reeling over the death of former Ohio State star and NFL first-round draft pick Dwayne Haskins, Saturday morning.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Haskins, 24, was trying to cross Interstate 595's westbound lanes, near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Broward County when he was struck by a dump truck around 6:30 a.m.

The patrol said in a news release the qaurterback, who was in South Florida working out with some Steelers teammates, had been "walking on (the highway) for unknown reasons."

No further details were available at the time, but a traffic homicide investigation is open.

Reaction to the death was quick. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin wrote on Instagram that he was "devastated and at a loss for words" following the death.

"He quickly became part of our Steelers family upon his arrival in Pittsburgh and was one of our hardest workers, both on the field and in our community," the post read. "Dwayne was a great teammate, but even more so a tremendous friend to so many. I am truly heartbroken.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Kalabrya, and his entire family during this difficult time."

Haskins, who was drafted No. 15 in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Washington Commanders and played two seasons for them, signed a one-year restricted free agent tender in March with the Steelers and was expected to compete for the starting job in 2022.

Before that he played collegiately at Ohio State where he finished third in the 2018 Heisman Trophy race.

Monday, Ohio State coach Ryan Day addressed the tragic death after practice in a press conference.

He said Ohio State players were hurting over the tragic loss and spoke of his close relationship with Haskins.

“When you think about Dwayne, you think about the compassion that he had,” Day said. “Certainly for all of his teammates and his friends, but he always took time after practice to be around family members, kids. He was like a big brother."

Day added that Haskins personally meant a lot to his family because of the player's close relationship with his son R. J.

"He meant a lot to this program. He is going to be missed," Day said. "We are all hurting… It makes you hug your loved ones a little bit more and you just understand how fragile life is.”

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Major League Soccer Reaches a Deal to support Black Banks, Hoping to Help Close the Racial Wealth Gap

Major League Soccer (MLS) and National Blank Bank Foundation (NBBF) leaders join with Dr. Bernice A. King to announce MLS’s historic $25 million transaction with Black-owned banks across the country. L to R: NBBF Co-Founder Brandon Comer; Black Players For Change Founder and MLS veteran Quincy Amarikwa; King Center CEO Dr. Bernice A. King; MLS Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Sola Winley; NBBF Co-Founder Ashley Bell.

MLS Will Leverage Historic $25 Million Loan With Black Banks

Major League Soccer is attempting to do its part to help close the racial wealth gap.

Thursday, the league announced a partnership with the nonprofit National Black Bank Foundation (NBBF). Through it, the league will leverage a $25 million loan with eight Black banks.

According to MLS, the historic deal would mark the first time any sports league has participated in a major commercial transaction exclusively with Black-owned banks.

"Major League Soccer's partnership with the National Black Bank Foundation is a tangible step in the efforts to close the racial economic gap in the United States, and it's the right business decision for us," MLS Commissioner said Don Garber of the reasoning behind the move in a statement. 

"As a league, we continue to increase our initiatives in support of racial justice. In order to make a genuine impact, economic justice must be part of the equation. This transaction with a syndicate of community-focused Black banks is an important measure, and it is our hope this will raise awareness of the importance of Black-owned banks and their impact on the economy."

Dr. Bernice A. King, National Black Bank Foundation board member and King Center CEO, added, "I brought MLS and NBBF together because I saw an opportunity to create a partnership with the power to transform lives in Black communities and change hearts and minds throughout our nation. This deal undoubtedly marks an important moment in the continuing struggle for civil rights in the United States."

According to the Federal Reserve, the Black-white economic gap in the United States has remained virtually untouched since the Civil Rights Movement. Historical efforts by Black families to escape the continuum of poverty by building intergenerational wealth, primarily through homeownership and small business entrepreneurship, have been thwarted by racialized credit access. In 2020, lenders denied Black mortgage applicants at a rate 84% higher than white borrowers.

The terms of the loan have yet to be disclosed, but it is known the interest and fees will be paid in advance, creating what's called Tier 1 capital — which the league says will almost immediately allow the banks to offer more loans and lines of credit in Black and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Falcons' Calvin Ridley Suspended Through at Least 2022 Season for Betting on NFL Games

All-Pro ReelsCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The good news for the Atlanta Falcons, who have not had a winning season since 2017, is that they just opened up $11.1 million in salary-cap room for the 2022 season.

The bad news for the Dirty Birds is the reason for that windfall is the team will be without receiver Calvin Ridley, a former first-round draft pick who became the first NFL player suspended for gambling since 2019, Monday, and will be forced to sit out at least the 2022 season.

The NFL said in a statement that over a five-day stretch in November 2021, when he was on the non-football injury list to address his mental health and away from the team, Ridley placed bets on games.

While the NFL did not indicate what contests he placed bets on, multiple reports said the bets involved multiple teams — including the Falcons, whom he picked to beat the Jaguars in Week 12. The Falcons won that game 21-14.

In a letter NFL commissioner, Rodger Goodell, sent notifying Ridley of his suspension, he praised the player for admitting to his actions when the league brought him in for questioning but chided him for putting the reputation of the game at risk.

"There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL's success — and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league — than upholding the integrity of the game. This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league," Goodell wrote. "Your actions put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermined the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL."
The investigation found no evidence inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way. The league also noted that there was no evidence the Falcons staff nor players were aware of the transactions.

The Falcons, who now have only one receiver — rookie Frank Darby — from the 53-man roster last season under contract, issued the following statement on the action taken against the receiver.

"We were first made aware of the league's investigation on Feb. 9. We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice and support the league's findings and actions. We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made. With the decision that was made by the NFL, any further questions on the investigation should be directed to the league office."
Ridley said he bet $1,500 total denied having a gambling problem in a series of tweets following the announcement. He also seemed surprised by the severity of his punishment.

"I know I was wrong But I'm getting 1 year lol." he wrote.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Brian Flores Opens up About 'Sham' NFL Interview

Courtesy Photo
Black History Month started out with a bang for sports fans Tuesday when former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the NFL, the New York Giants, the Dolphins and Denver Broncos for racial discrimination.

Now he is opening up about his dispute with the league and some of the incendiary charges leveled in his bombshell lawsuit.

Asked how it made him feel knowing that he was walking into an interview where a decision might have already been made during an appearance on “CBS Mornings” Wednesday, Flores said, “It was a range of emotions. Humiliation. Disbelief. Anger. I worked so hard to get where I am in football to become a head coach. To go in on what was a sham interview, I was hurt.”
Flores walked into the interview with an idea that it was just a cursory attempt to respect the NFL's Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior operation positions, thanks to a damning text exchange with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick that was the catalyst for the lawsuit that states that the league "remains rife with racism" and that "in certain critical ways, the NFL is racially segregated and is managed much like a plantation."

Belichick accidentally texted him to congratulate him on the NY Giants job thinking he was Brian Daboll. The lawsuit presents text messages of Belichick sending congratulations to Flores for landing the Giants job on Jan. 24. That text was sent two days prior to Flores interviewing for the job.

After Flores initially appeared confused by the text message, he asked Belichick, “Coach, are you talking to Brian Flores or Brian Daboll. Just making sure.”

Belichick replied: “Sorry – I f—ed this up. I double checked & I misread the text. I think they are naming Daboll. I’m sorry about that. BB”

According to the lawsuit, Flores was then "forced to sit through a dinner with Joe Schoen, the Giant’s [sic] new General Manager, knowing that the Giants had already selected Mr. Daboll. Much worse, on Thursday, January 27, 2022, Mr. Flores had to give an extensive interview for a job that he already knew he would not get — an interview that was held for no reason other than for the Giants to demonstrate falsely to the League Commissioner Roger Goodell and the public at large that it was in compliance with the Rooney Rule.”

Daboll was hired as the Giants head coach on Jan. 28.

The Giants responded on Tuesday after being named in the lawsuit.

“We are pleased and confident with the process that resulted in the hiring of Brian Daboll,” the team said in a statement. “We interviewed an impressive and diverse group of candidates. The fact of the matter is, Brain Flores was in the conversation to be our head coach until the eleventh hour. Ultimately, we hired the individual we felt was most qualified to be our next head coach."

Read the entire lawsuit here.