Lakewood Ranch's most famous citizen and ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale will receive the fifth annual Court of Honor Award from the National Association of Basketball Coaches Foundation this summer.
The Court of Honor Award is presented to an individual who has roots in college basketball and has gone on to distinguish himself in his profession, exhibiting the highest standards of leadership. Vitale will receive the award on June 25 in New York City.
"I was flabbergasted when (Duke basketball coach) Mike Krzyzewski called to let me know," Vitale said. "I'm in awe to join the list of giants who have won this award. I could never have dreamed it growing up across the river from where I will get this outstanding honor."
Vitale has been inducted into more than a dozen halls of fame, including the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Hall of Fame in 2013 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, both in 2008.
In addition to his dedication to basketball, Vitale is a passionate philanthropist who has gained worldwide recognition with his work to help fight pediatric cancer.
"I don't believe there is anyone who has helped grow the popularity of men's college basketball over the last 30-plus years more than Dick Vitale," Krzyzewski said. ""He has boundless enthusiasm and passion for everything he does, whether it's
commenting on a game or raising money for pediatric cancer research."
Vitale is on the board of directors of The V Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer that was created following the death of former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano in 1993 from cancer.
Locally, Vitale is most famous for his annual Dick Vitale Gala in Sarasota, which brings in some of the top sports celebrities in the world and has raised millions of dollars to help kids fight cancer.
Last year, Vitale's Gala raised $1.7 million to break the $10 million barrier in its eighth year. Vitale has said that is the most important thing he has done in his life.
The inaugural Court of Honor Gala Experience was held in April 2009, when Jerry Colangelo, chairman of USA Basketball and the man who assembled the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in 2008, received the Court of Honor Award. Other recipients include former Sen. Bill Bradley (2010), Phil Knight (2011) and Jim Nantz (2013).