Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne has won the NBA Cares Community Assist award for the month of December, the NBA announced today.
The monthly award recognizes a player who best demonstrates the passion that the league and NBA players share for giving back to their communities.
"Payne has focused much of his community engagement around mentoring and often speaks about how much his mentors helped him growing up throughout his journey to the NBA," the NBA's press release states. "In addition to mentoring, Payne is passionate about helping families during the holidays and giving back to his hometown of Memphis. During NBA Cares' Season of Giving, Payne adopted 15 families for Christmas as part of his second annual ‘Cam Payne’s 15 families of Christmas’ initiative where he provided gifts and fulfilled the wish lists of 15 families from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona. Payne invited the families to have Christmas dinner followed by gift-giving at the Footprint Center. Payne concluded the evening by providing a $250 gift card to Fry’s Food Stores for each family, and spent time taking photos and signing autographs.
"Also, during the holiday season, Payne participated in ‘Christmas Shopping with the Suns’, when 20 kids from Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation and Solano’s No Limit Hoops took a shopping spree with Phoenix Suns players at a local Target. In his hometown of Memphis, Payne donated $10,000 to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital on Dec. 26. In November, Payne hosted a Thanksgiving celebration for 50 mentors and mentees from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona to encourage youth mentorship and recruit more mentors of color. Mentors and mentees were invited to Footprint Center for Thanksgiving dinner and dessert, served by Payne and his family, and an evening of fun games, including pop-a-shot, arcade games and NBA 2K on the arena’s videoboard."
Payne will be recognized during an on-court ceremony before the Suns’ home game against the Dallas Mavericks tonight. Also, the NBA will donate $10,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona.
“I have so much gratitude for the communities that have done so much for me and am trying my best to do whatever I can to give back. I’m thankful to the NBA for this recognition and to Phoenix Suns Charities for all the work they do,” Payne said. “We’re not going to stop here; my hope is to continue to uplift these kids and to inspire the Valley to get involved themselves.”
Payne has an incredible story, as he was out of the NBA not too long ago and even got cut by a team in China. He thought his professional-basketball career might be over. However, he worked hard, signed with a G League team and played great. This earned him a spot on the Suns, and he hasn't looked back since.