Sam Lacy3-001

Sportswriters Sam Lacy (left) and Wendell Smith. (Courtesy Photos)

This past week, I spent the day at the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, the location for an event that is very dear to my heart. This was the venue for an awards luncheon named for Sam Lacy and Wendell Smith.

For those of you who don’t know who Shirley Povich was, I can familiarize you with his son Maury.  Maury has a show on TV that identifies dead beat dads. Shirley was my dad’s contemporary at The Washington Post.  They were friendly competitors and friends off the field. Sam Lacy was my dad and an African-American and Native-American sportswriter who was a columnist, reporter, editor and TV/radio host.

Wendell Smith was an African-American sportswriter who covered the Negro Leagues for many African-American newspapers, and boxing for the Chicago Tribune.

The collective efforts of Wendell and Sam are largely responsible for Jackie Robinson being chosen to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

And then there’s James Brown, a three-time Emmy award winner, host of “The NFL Today” on CBS and “Thursday Night Football,” and special correspondent for CBS News. He was the guest of honor at the luncheon and winner of the Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award. Many of you have seen JB on your tube bringing you updates and airing his position on domestic violence. However, few know that JB is a product of D.C.’s DeMatha Catholic High School and Harvard University.  He was a stand-out basketball star and was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, and the Denver Nuggets of the ABA.  In addition to the Sam Lacy-Wendell Smith Award, there were a few additional  awards  presented to a select group of well deserving recipients at the luncheon.

Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated‘s “Monday Morning Quarterback” was the 2015 “Rising Star” awardee.

Aaron Kasinitz was one of two All-Star Student Award Winners.  He served a stint at the Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s independent student newspaper, where he was sports editor and men’s basketball beat writer.

The second of the All-Star Student Award Winners was (my wife’s favorite), Rhiannon Walker.  Rhiannon spent her time at UMD’s Phillip Merrill College gaining a diverse amount of experience in sports journalism with stints at WUSA, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, USA Today Sports, The Oklahoman and The Baltimore Sun.  She is an active member in Maryland Association of Black Journalists and Maryland’s student chapter of the Association for Sports Media.

They served us a dynamite lunch. I would list the menu, but Jake (my boss) would call me and remind me that we ain’t running a restaurant.

All things considered, it was a very good day.