Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry has been named the 2022-23 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion, the NBA announced today.
Curry was selected from a group of five finalists for his dedication to pursuing social justice and advancing Abdul-Jabbar’s life mission to engage, empower and drive equality for individuals and groups who have been historically marginalized or systemically disadvantaged.
Curry prioritizes uplifting communities by fostering equity and creating access to opportunity. As a co-chair of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s “When We All Vote” initiative, Curry uses his platform to drive voter registration, education and turnout, most recently during the 2022 election season. His role encouraged millions of new voters to participate in the political process and make their voices heard through civic engagement. As part of his ongoing voting-related efforts, Curry participated in the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition’s “Freedom to Vote” social-media campaign to help advocate for the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act in the U.S. Senate. Curry is also committed to raising awareness around issues of community safety, utilizing the Warriors’ 2023 White House visit to engage directly with President Biden and participate in a White House press briefing with head coach Steve Kerr to publicly address the matter.
Much of Curry’s work also focuses on supporting underrepresented groups and reducing barriers to opportunity. In 2022, he graduated from Davidson College and wrote his final thesis on gender equity in sports, an issue that anchors his progressive and innovative ventures across the consumer, entertainment and non-profit spaces. Through UNDERRATED, Curry’s lifestyle brand that empowers underrated and underrepresented individuals by opening doors for often-overlooked student-athletes, he creates equity, access and opportunity for basketball and golf athletes around the world to be seen by college recruiters, sports agents and other industry leaders. UNDERRATED has also enabled female athletes to access the same opportunities as their male counterparts, provided scholarships for athletes and offered personal development programming for young people. Among these efforts, Curry committed $6 million in funding to the men’s and women’s golf team at Howard University, which hadn’t been active for 50 years.
Unanimous Media, Curry’s multimedia company rooted in the mission to inspire audiences through authentic storytelling, is dedicated to collaborating with underrepresented filmmakers, creators and writers across the entertainment industry.
Through Eat. Learn. Play., Curry’s nonprofit co-founded with his wife Ayesha, Curry works to ensure every child in Oakland has access to nutritious food they need to be healthy and thrive, resources to foster a love for learning and reading, and safe places with equitable opportunities to play. With a mission to address and overcome the systemic socio-economic barriers facing underserved communities, Eat. Learn. Play. and its partners continue making a positive impact in the lives of children and families in need. Over the last year, Eat. Learn. Play. has provided over two million meals and 500,000 books to Oakland students, funded over 1,500 teacher-led classroom literacy projects, remodeled four new playspaces complete with multi-sport courts, playgrounds, gardens and murals, and more.
Curry has selected University of San Francisco Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice, which investigates, illuminates, and advances the theory and practice of transformational nonviolence to confront and overcome injustice and systemic violence and contribute to the just resolution of communal conflict, to receive a $100,000 contribution from the NBA on his behalf.
“I’m passionate about the work of the University of San Francisco Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice and its commitment to overcoming injustice and systemic violence through peace,” said Curry. “As an athlete, I consistently leverage my platform to amplify advocacy and address the pervasive issue of systemic racism. I firmly believe that we must be vocal both on social media and in real life, taking tangible actions to effect real change in our society and for generations to come. Together, with the organization's co-founder and director, Dr. Clarence B. Jones, we have initiated meaningful conversations around social justice with the school's student body, doubled the charity’s donations through my foundation Eat. Learn. Play.'s gift matching initiatives, and continued building on its mission in my personal and professional life by holding people accountable and promoting the principles of justice, fairness and equality today, tomorrow and in the future.”
The four other finalists – Memphis Grizzlies forward-center Jaren Jackson Jr., San Antonio Spurs guard Tre Jones, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul and Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams – will each receive $25,000 donations from the NBA to the following social justice organizations of their choosing: VisionC (Williams), The Girls Opportunity Alliance/The Obama Foundation (Jackson), Children's Bereavement Center of South Texas (Jones) and the Social Change Fund United (Paul).
The winner of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award was determined by a selection committee comprised of Abdul-Jabbar and notable social justice leaders Director of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport Dr. Richard Lapchick, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial, UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía, Rise Founder and CEO Amanda Nguyen and NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. This year’s youth representative and Jr. NBA Court of Leaders member was Leah Harmon.