By Marc Weinreich
April 15, 2014

Luol Deng will become a free agent in July. (Rocky Widner/Getty Images) Luol Deng will become a free agent in July. (Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

Cavs forward Luol Deng received the NBA' s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award on Tuesday after a vote by the Professional Basketball Writers Association, according to

The award is presented annually to the player, coach or trainer that the writers believe exemplifies "service and dedication to the community," according to the league. In 2007, Deng was a finalist for the award as a member of the Chicago Bulls, but the recognition had ultimately gone to Steve Nash, then with the Phoenix Suns. 

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Deng, who turns 29 on Wednesday, recently did a Public Service Announcement in which he called for peace in his native South Sudan. He launched the Luol Deng Foundation, which aims to bring communities in Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States together through basketball. According to the league, Deng's foundation will open two courts with 12 hoops and numerous locker rooms in Africa this summer, and it will also bring basketball gear to the local communities there.

A two-time All-Star, he also brought increased opportunities for women in the U.K. to become involved in sports, and his foundation also seeks to provide elite training of athletes there.

Deng's work in the U.S. mostly concerns the two cities in which he has played as a professional, Chicago and Cleveland, providing meals and hosting holiday events for families in those areas. 

Other candidates nominated this year for the award include Nash again, Miami' s Ray Allen, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, Toronto's Amir Johnson, Atlanta's Kyle Korver, Portland's Damian Lillard, Minnesota's Kevin Love, Chicago's Joakim Noah, the Clippers' Chris Paul and San Antonio's Matt Bonner. Ultimately, PBWA President Mary Schmitt said, it was clear that Deng had elevated himself from the pack.

"The breadth and depth of Luol Deng's community service elevated him from a deep pool of committed candidates,'' PBWA President Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer said. "But, really, all the candidates and their communities are winners.''
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