Steve Nash received the Spirit Award at the 29th Anniversary Sports Spectacular. (Gabriel Preciado/Living Out Loud LA)
On Sunday, May 18, Sports Spectacular held its 29th Anniversary Gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Park. The festivities brought together some of the greatest names in entertainment and sports. The three honorees of the night included two-time NBA MVP and current Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash, UFC President Dana White and NFL legend Tony Gonzalez.
Sports Spectacular partners with top athletes and world-class health professionals to improve millions of lives through science, research, prevention and education. This year’s event featured a correlation of studies and awareness with the Health and Wellness Center at Cedars-Sinai. The mission to combat diabetes and obesity included the funding of new medical research and encouraging a new, healthy-eating lifestyle that also involved exercise and consistent physical activity.
The evening began with the red carpet arrivals of celebrities ranging from Los Angeles Clipper Ryan Hollins to sports broadcast legend Jim Hill and everyone in between. Actors, models and heroes galore walked the red carpet over a time span of an hour and a half.
The awards ceremony took place in the Los Angeles Room and was accompanied by a three-course meal with both white and red wines.
Hosted by Hill, John Salley and Kevin Frazier, more than 1,800 prominent sports figures, entertainers and business, civic and communist leaders were on hand to support and celebrate the contributions made by their peers and the event’s main honorees.
Sean Hayes opened the ceremony with positive remarks, as well as expected jokes about the Clippers and Donald Sterling controversy. He also presented the Leadership Award to Cedar Sinai’s Kevin Neustadt.
Jesse Williams then honored Steve Nash with the Spirit Award. It highlighted his many philanthropic efforts in the L.A. community.
“I’ve been really fortunate to help children through the years with my own foundation,” said Nash. “As a father of three, it [obesity and diabetes] is such a relevant topic right now. Technology and the fear of letting our kids go out and play on the streets is what leads to the difficulty of getting them on the right path.”
Thankful for the opportunity and recognition for his charitable efforts in the community, Nash said, “I couldn’t be more proud to be here tonight to support this foundation that has effected so many people positively.”
Jim Hill then took the stage to give a short dedication speech to Salley.
He quoted Dr. King, “Giving back to your fellow mankind is one of the most noble things that anyone can do.” Hill continued, “One of the most noble people that I know, one person who gives his time, who laughs and jokes, makes fun of a lot of us, but when it comes down to giving back to the community, no one does it better than John Salley.”
Celebrity guests including Baron Davis, Chuck Liddell and Kevin Connolly came together to spread awareness of child obesity, disease, diabetes and more, with frequent reminders to “not be a spectator but to be spectacular.”
Connolly presented Russell Wilson with the Team of the Year award, as he accepted it on behalf of the most recent Super Bowl champion, the Seattle Seahawks.
“My dad passed away from diabetes four years ago,” said Wilson. “I wanted to cut my hair and do something kind of weird because tonight is such a special night. Diabetes and obesity is a huge deal, so let’s continue to work towards success.”
Later, former Atlanta Falcon’s tight-end Tony Gonzales accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award.
“When I got the call about the Lifetime Achievement Award by Cedar-Sinai, I was wowed. To be a part of something like this is awesome,” said Gonzalez. “To all of the great people in this room, it is an honor to be standing up here, not for the NFL or my award, but for the work that is going to be going into the community and serving the kids who are the future of our world.”
Gonzalez told stories of his childhood as a victim of bullying and correlated it with a motivating speech that consisted of genuine thanks to his mother.
The final honoree to be awarded was UFC President Dana White, who accepted his Visionary Award from Olivia Munn. He gained recognition for changing the landscape of the sports world.
“Tony gets Jay Glazer, I get Olivia Munn,” joked White, after accepting his award at the podium. “One of the big things that we’ve always wanted to achieve is the fact that these athletes are some of the most conditioned athletes in the world. They belong on this platform with all the others, and I have to thank FOX for changing the world.” White continued to thank Chuck Liddell, saying, “Liddell not only believed in the vision that I had for the UFC, but he was a true partner. Not just a fighter, not just a world champion, not just a guy who was on pay-per-view, but a partner.”
White, who was unable to make it to the silent auction portion of the evening, personally donated $50,000 and also announced that the UFC would contribute a $25,000 donation.
Quincy Combs closed the gala with a performance of a self-written song, titled “Dream Tonight.”
Hill, Salley and Frazier ended the night with a thank you speech and a reminder to remain spectacular every day.