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Baylor, Ewing and Brown set for Grizz/King Day salute

grizz9elgin-baylor-160Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was 5 years old when Elgin Baylor was born, 7 when Jim Brown entered the world and 33 when Patrick Ewing came along.

Baylor was 33 years old when the 39-year-old Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel on April 4. 1968. Brown was 32; Ewing was 6.

On Monday, Jan. 21, those timelines will intersect in Memphis as the Memphis Grizzlies host their 11th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Day. NBA Hall of Famers Ewing and Baylor and NFL Hall of Famer Brown will be honored for their contributions to civil and human rights when the Grizz play the Indiana Pacers at noon.

grizz9jimbrown-160Ewing, Baylor and Brown will be the recipients of the Eighth Annual National Civil Rights Sports Legacy Awards, presented by FedEx. The award pays tribute to athletes who have made significant contributions to civil and human rights and who have laid the foundation for future leaders through their careers in sports in the spirit of Dr. King.

Regarded by many as the best shooting center of all time, Ewing was an offensive juggernaut and was once touted as the next Bill Russell. Off the court, Ewing is a passionate supporter of Zo's Fund for Life Foundation, an organization established by NBA veteran Alonzo Mourning, who was diagnosed with a kidney disease.

Ewing also became a strong supporter of breast cancer research after losing his sister to the disease. He has continuously given back to the community and those less fortunate from the NBA's Coaches for Kids to his most recent holiday toy giveaway.

grizz9patrickewing-160Baylor, one of the best all-around players in basketball history, lived and played during the time of segregation and has seen and overcome his share of injustices. In 1959, when Baylor and two other African-American players were scheduled to stay in a different hotel than his white teammates, Baylor protested by sitting out the entire game and refused to dress in his uniform.

Passionate about giving back to his community, Baylor currently provides scholarships for African-American students attending Los Angeles Community College and frequently donates to the St. Joseph Center.

Dubbed by some as the "greatest football player of all time," Brown retired from his running-back career in 1966 to pursue a movie career where he found much success. Off the big screen, Brown championed human rights, specifically those of African-Americans.

In the 60's, Brown helped create the Negro Industrial Economic Union to support black-owned businesses. In the 80's, he started the Amer-I-Can program, a national program and movement to empower individuals to take charge of their lives and achieve their full potential. Brown began the Amer-I-Can Foundation as a way to not only stop the violence, but to teach troubled people self-pride and personal responsibility.

The Martin Luther King Celebration Day will with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium, presented by the Hyde Family Foundation. The symposium will feature Ewing, Baylor and Brown, who will share their stories and experiences about their contributions to civil and human rights in the spirit of Dr. King.

The free symposium will be held in the Coventry Health Care Practice Facility at FedExForum from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., with doors set to open at 9:30 a.m. While admission is free with the purchase of a Grizzlies game ticket against the Pacers that afternoon, space is limited. Season Ticket Holders interested in attending must pre-register by calling their account executive at 901-888-HOOP or sending an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Following the symposium, the Grizzlies and Pacers will tip-off at noon in a nationally televised game on ESPN, presented by Lexus and Delta Air Lines, along with associate sponsors SunTrust, McDonald's of the Mid-South and State Farm.

The halftime ceremony, presented by MLGW, will feature a special Martin Luther King, Jr. video tribute, recognition of Brown, Ewing and Baylor, and a performance by American recording artist, Aaron Neville.

After the game, C Spire Wireless will present the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day High School Classic. This year, the Southwind Jaguars will tip-off against the Amanda Elzy Panthers at 3 p.m. Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to the Grizzlies game.

This marks the eighth year the Grizzlies and the National Civil Rights Museum have given out the Sports Legacy Award, presented by FedEx.

For tickets, call 901-888-HOOP or visit grizzlies.com. Tickets for the Plaza IV and Terrace IV sections are sold out.

The event is hosted by the Memphis Grizzlies, National Civil Rights Museum, City of Memphis and Shelby County and presented by FedEx, Hyde Family Foundation, Lexus, Delta Air Lines, C Spire Wireless and MLGW. Associate Game Sponsors include SunTrust, McDonald's of the Mid-South and State Farm.

(This story reflects info from grizzlies.com)

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