Ben McAdoo took a break from talking football with the media to discuss the importance of youth sports and organizations like CYO and Catholic Charities before receiving the John V. Mara Sportsman of the Year Award at the 81st annual CYO Club of Champions Tribute.
“CYO and Catholic Charities are tremendous organizations that work together to produce in the communities, to give back to the communities, to develop young people and incorporate sports into it, and I think that’s great,’’ the New York Giants head coach said.
“A lot can be learned from sports whether it’s learning how to win with class, how to bounce back from a loss, teamwork, character, sportsmanship.”
McAdoo was honored at the CYO dinner, which took place May 2 at the Mandarin Oriental in Manhattan, along with Brooklyn Nets player Sean Kilpatrick, who received the CYO Hometown Hero Award; former Rutgers University football player Eric LeGrand, Spirit of CYO Award; retired NBA All-Star Caron Butler, Terence Cardinal Cooke Humanitarian Award winner for outstanding commitment to youth; and George Pyne, Gold Medal Award winner for providing inspiration and leadership for New York City youth. Speakers and presenters included Cardinal Dolan; Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities; Giants co-owner John Mara as well as Chris Russo, host of “High Heat’’ on the MLB Network and former longtime co-host of the “Mike and the Mad Dog Show’’ on WFAN radio.
The dinner, with 420 guests, raised more than $520,000 for the archdiocese’s CYO program, which has more than 26,000 participants and 3,000 volunteers. McAdoo guided the Giants to an 11-5 record in his first season as head coach and is putting the pieces together for 2017 with additions from free agency and the recent draft. The Giants open rookie mini-camp on May 12 and mandatory mini-camp on June 13 before reporting to preseason camp in July.
“We’ll see how it all unfolds,’’ McAdoo said. “It’s still early. We have to jell together as a team. I thought that was strength of ours last year. We had good leadership in the locker room. We had a high character locker room. We’ll see how that comes together this year. Every year is a new year.’’
Pyne, founder and CEO of Bruin Sports Capital, has seen his company grow to 1,100 employees in 24 offices in nine countries since it was launched in January 2015. He previously served as president of IMG Sports and Entertainment and chief operating officer of NASCAR.
LeGrand, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a game against Army in 2010, serves as a motivational speaker. He released his first book, “BELIEVE: My Faith And The Tackle That Changed My Life’’ in 2012 and started Team LeGrand of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, with proceeds dedicated to finding a cure for paralysis and improving the quality of life of people with spinal cord injuries.
Butler, a two-time NBA All-Star and a member of the 2011 champion Dallas Mavericks, grew up in Racine, Wis., as a gang member and drug dealer who was arrested 15 times before his 15th birthday. He is now involved with youth outreach and continues working to improve relations between the youth and law enforcement officers in the neighborhood he grew up in.
His autobiography, “Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA,’’ was published in 2015, and his life story will be told soon in a movie being produced by Mark Wahlberg.
“I lost a lot of childhood friends growing up,’’ an emotional Butler said. “They are no longer with me, but I think about the conversations that we had growing up of the things we dreamed of and wanted to do. This is just beyond belief…talking in front of you. This is special.
“The one thing I know is I’m on this platform because of generations of prayer from my family, from my loved ones and I’m just extremely grateful.” Kilpatrick grew up in Yonkers and moved to White Plains, where he attended White Plains High School. He played for the University of Cincinnati, earning first-team All-American honors as a senior and ranking second to Oscar Robertson on the university’s all-time list with 2,145 career points. Kilpatrick, who played CYO basketball for Our Lady of Mercy parish in Port Chester, averaged 13.1 points, 2.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game with the Nets this past season.
“CYO basketball holds a special place in my life,’’ Kilpatrick said. “It’s an extension of family. It allowed me to be me while teaching me additional lessons in life. CYO prepared me for my Brooklyn Nets family. I just hope that there is another kid playing CYO basketball that believes in himself or herself and knows they can make it, too.
“I’m truly humbled and blessed to be a part of this incredible CYO family.”