The Real Keys to Life

Former NBA player Charlie Ward is recognized for his life of integrity.

  • by Amber Kinneer

NBA veteran, Heisman trophy winner and Major League Baseball draftee, Charlie Ward, Jr. has received recognition for being one of the best all-around athletes in the past quarter century.

On April 2, 2011, Charlie received the Keys to Life Award at the Legends of the Hardwood Breakfast in Houston, Texas. The breakfast, hosted by Athletes in Action and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, takes place each year during NCAA’s Final Four weekend.

This time, Charlie was awarded not for his athleticism, but for his exceptional moral character, integrity and faith.

The Legends of the Hardwood Breakfast was created to honor basketball role models who exemplify outstanding leadership, character and integrity. It has become one of the premier events of the NCAA Final Four weekend.

The annual breakfast is also a time for guests to hear a powerful testimony of faith and be challenged to consider Christ, or to grow in their relationship with Him.

In 1993, Charlie led the Florida State Seminoles to a National Title and was awarded the Heisman Trophy as the nation's top collegiate football player. In 2006, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Though Charlie didn’t play baseball in college, he was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1993 free agent draft and by the New York Yankees in 1994. That year the New York Knicks chose him as the 26th overall pick in the 1994 NBA draft. He played for the Knicks from 1994-2004 and the Houston Rockets in 2004-2005.

Active in serving the community off the court, Charlie has served in a variety of ways from helping with a Thanksgiving Dinner at a West Harlem soup kitchen to investing in the lives of children in cities across the country.

Past winners of The Coach Wooden Keys to Life Award include Clark Kellogg, Bobby Jones, and Don Meyer.

Legends of the Hardwood is part of the Sports Legend Series that includes the Super Bowl Breakfast (Super Bowl Weekend); The Night of Champions (May 5, 2011 in Xenia, Ohio); and the All-Star Breakfast (NBA All-Star Weekend, Dallas, Texas).