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Arizona non-profit to honor athletes doing the right things

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Athletes seem to be appearing in more mug shots than sports highlights. A Suns Forward is just the latest perpetrator in Arizona, receiving jail for an extreme DUI conviction. “That is why I am happy to announce today the 2014 Community Leadership Awards,” says Denise Meridith, Founder & President of Linking Sports & Communities LLC (LSC). “We want to recognize those people in sports, who are positive role models in our communities.” LSC will be presenting its annual awards for the 11th year to Eddie Johnson, Bruce Cooper, Padraig “O.B.” O’Brien, Sun Devil Athletics, Shape Up US, and high school students Trey West and Michael Peoples.

LSC is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, which encourages student athletes to stay in school, lead healthy lifestyles and be financially responsible. It annually recognizes nominated individual professionals, organizations and students, 12-18 years old, in sports, who are making significant contributions to their communities.

Johnson, former Phoenix Sun and current broadcaster and author, is receiving The Lifetime Achievement Award, for his basketball achievements and his tireless efforts to mentor young athletes in the State. “I am honored and humbled by such a prestigious award,” he said. “I enjoy making a difference in people's lives and I will be motivated even more now.”

Cooper is the beloved sports director for NBC in Phoenix, whose love of and promotion of Friday night school football games is legendary. O’Brien has gained the respect of coaches, parents and kids throughout the country during his 20 years in basketball training and helping youth get into college.

The new ASU Athletic Director—Ray Anderson—said this about his organization’s recognition: “’Sun Devils Serve’ is one of the main tenants of the Sun Devil Athletics Way; therefore it is very important to us that we give back to our community. I am very proud of our student athletes and staff that served almost a quarter of a million community members and over 6,100 hours this past year.”

Jyl Steinback and her Shape Up US provide programs to help guide teachers in helping teach children to be healthy in all aspects of life. The two 17-year-old high schoolers—West and Peoples—are leaders on the field, in class, and in their communities.

The Arizona Coyotes will host this year’s awards in November. People interested in sponsoring, participating in or attending the ceremonies can contact LSC at