LOS ANGELES – Luc Robitaille of the Los Angeles Kings will join basketball’s Kevin Johnson, boxing’s Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, and thoroughbred racing’s Jose Santos on Saturday, Feb. 23, when these memorable sports superstars are honored and their spectacular careers celebrated at the 17th Annual Sports Legends Awards at The Omni Hotel in Los Angeles. Johnson will be presented with the annual John R. Wooden Lifetime Achievement Award.
Robitaille, a native of Montreal, Québec, and current Los Angeles resident, ranks as the highest scoring left wing in National Hockey League (NHL) history and the all-time Los Angeles Kings leader in goals scored. A future member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and an eight-time All Star, Robitaille retired following the 2006-07 season as one of the greatest players in NHL history after a 19-year professional career, compiling 1,394 points (668 goals, 726 assists) in 1431 career regular season games with the Kings, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. In 159 playoff games, including a run to the 2002 Stanley Cup with the Red Wings, he totaled 127 points with 58 goals and 69 assists.
Originally drafted by the Kings in 1984, Robitaille became the first King to win the Calder Cup Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year, and later joined legendary Wayne Gretzky in leading the Kings to the club’s first Stanley Cup Finals in 1993. That season, Robitaille served as captain and set league single-season records for most goals (63) and points (125) by a left wing, marks that still stand. With 14 of his 19 seasons spent in a Kings uniform, his popular No. 20 jersey became only the fifth to be retired in club history on Jan. 20, 2007. Currently, he is in his first season as Kings President, Business Operations, and along with his family, Robitaille recently created Shelter for Serenity, a disaster relief project that benefits victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes (www.shelterforserenity.org), and Echoes of Hope (www.echoesofhope.org), a charitable foundation that provides resources, knowledge, skills and support to at-risk youth in the Greater Los Angeles area.
The Paralysis Project of America’s annual awards ceremony, benefiting spinal cord research, is open to the public. Serving as the event’s emcee will be veteran sportscaster and sportswriter Diana Nyad, a Hall of Fame distance swimming standout in her own right, who was an honoree in 2007.
Also being honored will be Hall of Fame motocross champion and ESPN Supercross analyst David Bailey, who will receive the 2008 Bill Shoemaker Award for media awareness of the spinal cord injured and for his public advocacy for a revolutionary new safety device to be worn by motocross racers – the Leatt Brace.
Tipping off the evening’s festivities at 5:45 p.m. is a reception, featuring autograph opportunities with current and former Sports Legend Award honorees, as well as a sports memorabilia auction and Diamond Bar and Big Screen TV raffle. The dinner begins at 7 p.m., followed immediately by the Sports Legends Awards presentation at 8 p.m.
For the first time in the event’s 17-year history, bidding in the sports and entertainment memorabilia auction officially begins with an Online Auction running Tuesday, Feb. 12 (5 a.m. PT) through Thursday, Feb. 21 (5 p.m. PT) at www.paralysisproject.cmarket.com. It concludes with the Live Event at the Sports Legends Awards ceremony between 5:45-8 p.m. PT on Saturday, Feb. 23.
Sports Legends Awards honorees are selected annually for their contributions to sports by The Paralysis Project of America’s Business and Sports Councils. Headed by co-chairmen Bob Seagren and Gary Stevens, the Sports Council includes former Sports Legends Award winners like former Kings goaltender Rogie Vachon, Pepper Davis, Jim Hill, Rafer Johnson, Jim Knaub, Jack Kramer, Ann Meyers Drysdale, Joe Morgan, Don Newcombe, Bill Sharman, Al Unser, Jamaal Wilkes and John R. Wooden.
“The 2008 class of Sports Legends are superstar athletes who continue to display the heart of a champion,” says Catherine Lepone, executive director of The Paralysis Project of America. “Their participation is a tribute to those who have suffered a life-altering injury that challenges their ability to walk or compete in sports activities as they once did.”
“This year’s honorees are not only sports heroes but outstanding citizens, and we’re extremely thrilled that the public will have a tremendous opportunity to meet and mingle with their favorite sports greats during our 17th Annual event,” says David G. Geffen, president of The Paralysis Project of America Board of Directors.
“We’re also opening up our sports and entertainment memorabilia auction to a wider online audience beginning February 12,” Geffen adds. “We’ll have a wide collection of memorabilia available at www.paralysisproject.cmarket.com, and all proceeds from the auction will continue to directly support important fund raising efforts for spinal cord research.”
A few of this year’s Sports Legends auction items will include: an exclusive two-ticket package to the IRL’s 2008 Indianapolis 500 that includes two Gasoline Alley pit passes and lodging donated by former Sports Legends honoree Andy Granatelli, as well as numerous group ticket and luxury box packages for the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, L.A. Avengers and L.A. Galaxy. Tickets to the 2008 Prime Time Emmy Awards also will be on the auction block.
The 17th Annual Sports Legends Awards are open to the public. For tickets, contact Nicole Levitt of the Wide Angle Group at (310) 397-9267. Info for this event can be found at The Paralysis Project of America’s Web site at www.paralysisproject.org or by contacting Barry Smith at (818) 760-7131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.