To honor military veterans this season, Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins announced plans to host 800 local veterans at 20 Hawks games in the new 'Baptist Battalion' section at State Farm Arena. Forty veterans from the greater Atlanta area will attend each of the 20 games and receive complimentary tickets, transportation, and a signature shirt from Collins’ The Baptist Collection clothing brand.
Sharecare, the team’s official jersey patch partner, teamed up with Collins to provide the necessary resources to honor these service members from local veteran organizations as well as nearby military bases. The Baptist Battalion will seat the first 40 veterans on Monday, Nov. 15, when the Hawks take on the Orlando Magic.
Raised by two veterans who served the United States Armed Forces for more than 42 years combined (mother Lyria Rising-Collins served more than 22 years in the Air Force and father John Collins Jr. served 20 in the Navy) and having moved multiple times while growing up, Collins has personal experience with the sacrifice, commitment, and dedication exemplified by veterans.
“I have seen the sacrifice our veterans make on a daily basis and it’s important to me to do what I can to make sure they know their service is appreciated,” Collins said. “I’m honored to be able to thank them in this small way for all they have done and continue to do for our country.”
Collins has committed his career to honoring and supporting military members and their families. Ahead of Veterans Day 2020, he served dinner for 70 and supplied business and professional attire to veterans seeking to re-enter the workforce. Additionally, during Memorial Day 2019, Collins partnered with the NBA and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Good Grief Camp for an event that took children who lost a loved one in the Armed Forces on a tour of the Pentagon and 9/11 Memorial in Washington, D.C., before hosting them for a Junior NBA clinic.
The 24-year-old phenom was the 2020 recipient of the Jason Collier Memorial Trophy. The annual award goes to Hawks players who most closely exemplify the characteristics of a community ambassador like Collier, the late Atlanta Hawks center who passed away in 2005. Collins also was honored in May 2021 as the inaugural winner of the 2020-21 Sekou Smith Award, which annually honors the player on the team's roster who best represents themselves and the franchise with professionalism and integrity in their interactions with the media.
Not only is Collins the best dunker in the NBA and a great teammate, but he's an even better person off the court. The awards and accolades he's received throughout his young career hardly sum up everything he's done for the community in just a few short years. We're lucky to have 'John the Baptist' in Atlanta.