Even when he’s sidelined with an injury, Gary Payton II of the Golden State Warriors keeps winning. Payton won the newly-renamed Bob Lanier Community Assist Award for 2022 after his extensive community service efforts, in particular his work with children who have learning disabilities.
Payton received the honor, formerly known as the NBA Cares Community Assist Award, primarily due to the work his GPII foundation does for children with dyslexia. Payton, who was diagnosed with dyslexia in second grade, spent his breakout season with the Warriors constantly meeting with and encouraging young people with learning disabilities. He held a Reading Rally with Decoding Dyslexia earlier in the season, another dyslexia awareness event at city hall, and in December, hosted a webinar for 80 children in a Read To Achieve event. Before January’s game against the Detroit Pistons at the Chase Center, Payton hosted a group from Decoding Dyslexia California, where some kids even got to sit courtside.
“You don’t know yourself so you don’t know why it’s difficult for you to learn just like other kids in the class. We identified it and when we did, I got help. After that I understood that it’s OK to ask for help,” explained Payton, whose charitable efforts are especially notable for a player who started the year on the very cusp of the Warriors roster, getting cut at the end of the preseason after off-season hernia surgery, before re-signing to claim the 15th roster spot. Since then, his defensive intensity, basketball smarts, and athleticism have made him indispensable on the court. And, it appears, even more so off the court.
It’s been common to see signs in support of Payton all season long, including this one from a December game against Memphis.
This is so awesome! My dyslexic 9 yr old brought his own sign a few weeks ago because he’s so inspired after hearing @Garydwayne talk to Dyslexic kids and share his story! https://t.co/x9H7ZIvs4o pic.twitter.com/jV9PXEUklW— Megan Bacigalupi (@meganbaci) January 19, 2022
As if this guy wasn’t lovable enough already!
Payton’s foundation will receive $75,000 as a result of the award, from the NBA and Kaiser Permanente, in honor of the NBA’s 75th season. Payton also won the monthly NBA Cares award for January, and will be honored by the team during the NBA Finals.
The former NBA Cares Award was renamed in honor of Bob Lanier, who passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 73. Lanier was an eight-time All-Star for the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks, and after his playing career, he served as president of the NBA’s Stay In School program, the forerunner to the current Read To Achieve program. For the last 17 years of his life, Lanier was the NBA Cares Global Ambassador, overseeing a range of programs that supported education and health for underprivileged and at-risk youth. In perhaps his most noble act, Lanier also once broke Bill Laimbeer’s nose.
Payton won after a combined vote from fans and a panel of NBA executives. His foundation’s focus is to provide money for educators to get trained on screening and detecting dyslexia in young people and young adults, and providing the resources for them to get help. Young Glove is still a game-time decision for whether he can intervene and provide resources to the Warriors’ perimeter defense, but he’s a winner no matter what the medical staff decides. As his mom wrote for The Athletic:
I find the utmost fulfillment in knowing that sweet kid has grown into a kind and generous man. That same spirit is alive and well in you today. Even while you were injured, you were still hosting meet-and-greets in the locker room and bringing families to the games. I hear the thank-you notes pour into the Warriors offices from fans and children who appreciate you inviting them to games and spending time with them. I swell with pride when I think of all the children you help find some confidence and inspiration even with their learning disabilities.
Congratulation to GPII! Joe Lacob, bring this guy back next year!