Dodger lefty Clayton Kershaw was named the winner of the 2012 Roberto Clemente Award today. The award pays tribute to Clemente’s achievements and character by recognizing active players who are involved in their communities. It is given each year to the player who best represents baseball through positive contributions on and off the field.
“Major League Baseball is proud to present our most prestigious off-field honor, the Roberto Clemente Award, to Clayton Kershaw,” Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said. “I am delighted that our game can shine a light on Clayton’s extraordinary efforts with his wife Ellen to make a difference in the lives of children in Zambia.”
As a high school student, Ellen Kershaw saw a segment about African orphans on the Oprah Winfrey Show. In college, she decided to make yearly mission trips to Zambia as a part of Arise Africa, a non-profit organization.
In 2011 she took her husband Clayton along, and together they founded their own charity called Kershaw’s Challenge. The National League’s strikeout leader in 2011, Kershaw donated $100 to the cause each time he struck out a batter. In 2012, Kershaw continued the policy and placed second in the league.
The Kershaws’ organization, together with Arise Africa built and maintains an orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia. Kershaw’s Challenge also seeks to create an emergency fund for the orphanage’s children, many of whom are HIV positive.
Each year the Kershaws return to Zambia to visit the children and bring awareness to this issue.
Kershaw’s Challenge is also active in Los Angles, supporting the Peacock Foundation which helps at-risk youth by partnering with mental health practitioners, public service agencies and community organizations.
Near Kershaw’s Dallas home, his organization helps Mercy Street which provides mentoring, sports and recreation, vocational and educational opportunities to young people in at-risk communities.
“The work that this young man has accomplished to help youth around the world is wonderful, and we are proud to welcome him among the many players who have carried on Roberto’s legacy,” said Clemente’s widow, Vera.
A Pittsburgh outfielder and Hall of Fame inductee, Clemente was a 12-time All Star who perished in a New Year’s Eve plane crash in 1972 while on a relief effort to help Nicaraguan earthquake victims.
“It is an incredible honor to receive this award,” Kershaw said. “Just being associated with someone like Roberto Clemente is truly humbling and I am extremely grateful.”
Kershaw joins a prestigious list of Clemente award recipients that includes 14 members of Baseball’s Hall of Fame. He and 1981 recipient Steve Garvey are the only Dodgers to receive the award.
If you’d like to help Kershaw in his charitable work, you can donate by clicking here.
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