The Memphis Grizzlies will be hosting the Ninth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration on Monday, Jan. 17 when they play the Chicago Bulls. This year sports icon Willie Mays along with NBA Hall-of-Famers Willis Reed and Lenny Wilkens will be honored for their contributions to civil and human rights.
Mays, Reed and Wilkens will be the recipients of the Sixth Annual National Civil Rights Sports Legacy Award, presented by FedEx. The award pays tribute to the 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. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"We expect this to be one of the most impactful and insightful group of honorees we have ever presented the National Civil Rights Sports Legacy Award to on this very important day," said Greg Campbell, Grizzlies President of Business Operations. "We are humbled to have the opportunity to honor three individuals whose work not only as ballplayers, but also champions of civil and human rights away from the game helped set the standard for generations."
The day will begin this year with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Sports Legacy Symposium, presented by the Hyde Family Foundation. The symposium will feature Mays, Reed and Wilkens, 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 10-11 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 Bulls that afternoon, space is limited. Season Ticket Holders interested in attending must pre-register by calling their Account Executive at (901) 888-HOOP or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the symposium, the Grizzlies and Bulls will tip-off at noon in a nationally televised game on ESPN. Fans will want to arrive early, as FedEx will present the National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Ceremony prior to tip-off, where Mays, Reed and Wilkens will receive their awards. The National Anthem will then be performed by acclaimed rhythm and blues, gospel singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples. The halftime ceremony, presented by MLGW, will feature a special Martin Luther King, Jr. video tribute, recognition of Mays, Reed and Wilkens and a performance by Staples, who rose to fame as a member of her family's band, The Staples Singers.
After the game, McDonalds of the Mid-South will present the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day High School Classic. This year the Central High Warriors will tip-off the first contest against the Southwind Jaguars at 3:30 p.m., followed by a contest between the Dyer Count Choctaws and the White Station Spartans. Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to the Grizzlies game.
Tickets for the MLK Jr. Day Celebration can be purchased by calling (901) 888-HOOP, at all Ticketmaster outlets, the FedExForum Box Office or at grizzlies.com. Fans can also take advantage of significant savings by purchasing a Pepsi Family Value plan which includes four game tickets, four Pepsi fountain drinks and four hot dogs for as little as $48.