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As Carmelo Anthony wrestles with end of NBA career, he hopes his legacy will be defined by community outreach

Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Basketball

BALTIMORE -- Carmelo Anthony has done it all in his basketball career, leading Syracuse to an NCAA championship in 2003, winning three Olympic gold medals with Team USA and earning 10 All-Star selections in his 16-year NBA career.

Though the former Towson Catholic star's accolades have not been enough to convince NBA teams to sign him this summer, Anthony's community outreach contributions have earned him one of the sport's highest honors.

Anthony, Dawn Staley and former Harlem Globetrotter TyRone "Hollywood" Brown will accept The Mannie Jackson -- Basketball's Human Spirit Award on Sept. 5 during the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's induction weekend in Springfield, Mass. The award honors "a recognized leader and catalyst for change" by "demonstrating a philosophy of respectfulness, teamwork, commitment and human compassion in all aspects of their lives."

The 35-year-old Anthony, who grew up in Baltimore and played at Towson Catholic for three seasons before transferring to Oak Hill for his senior year, said he was grateful to be one of the recipients.

"It's an incredible honor to receive this award, one that speaks to overcoming obstacles and building up community," he wrote via email.

"Community impact is undoubtedly the most important part of my legacy. It is what you do for others that will last. If I am able to bring hope to even one person who doesn't see anything hopeful around them or inspire one kid to be more than the labels society may place on them or encourage community members to take care of and stand for one another, then I will know that I've spent my time wisely."

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Former Harlem Globetrotters owner Mannie Jackson acknowledged that issuing the first couple versions of the award named after him, beginning in 2007, had its share of hiccups because the selection committee was worried about choosing a winner from a pool of worthy candidates.

But Jackson, the first African-American owner of a major sports corporation, has no trepidation about singling out Anthony as "one of the top three winners we've selected out of the 32," adding University of Kansas coach Bill Self and former basketball player and announcer Sonny Hill to that exclusive club.

"I don't believe that people appreciate the full dimension of Carmelo Anthony as a human being," Jackson, 80, said recently. "I've been following him since I met him at Syracuse University with Jim Boeheim and others when the Harlem Globetrotters played Syracuse up there. He had just left college and was going to the NBA, and I said, 'This guy is going to be something.' And not just as a ballplayer, but I had no idea that a person at that age could have a vision of what he wanted his life to be like.

"I've followed him very closely ever since. ... He's been everything and more than I ever expected him to be."

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