NEW YORK -- Connecticut Sun guard and former Tennessee All-American Kara Lawson was named the recipient of the 2012 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award, the WNBA announced Thursday night. Lawson, who also won the award in 2009, received 18 of 41 votes from a panel of national and local sportswriters and broadcasters. San Antonio guard Becky Hammon finished second with five votes.
Designed to honor a player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship – ethical behavior, fair play and integrity – the award is named for the late Kim Perrot, who helped guide the Houston Comets to their first two WNBA championships before passing away in August 1999 after a seven-month battle with cancer.
In her 10th season in the WNBA, Lawson has become a fan favorite in Connecticut. The four-time All-SEC honoree (2000-03) previously received this honor in 2009 as a member of the Sacramento Monarchs. She is a presence in the Connecticut community and partakes in countless events and speaking engagements. Lawson has been actively involved in raising both funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s research since her collegiate head coach, Pat Summitt, was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type, last August.
This season, she pledged to donate $50 for each 3-pointer made to the Pat Summitt Foundation, and the Connecticut Sun and Mohegan Sun matched her donation. Lawson set a new franchise record with 74 made 3’s this season, donating $3,700 personally to the cause. With the Mohegan Sun Tribe, the Connecticut Sun Foundation and Summitt’s biographer Sally Jenkins matching the $50 pledge by Lawson, her total amount raised came to $14,800.
“I am very proud of all that Kara has accomplished this year on and off the court,” said Connecticut coach Mike Thibault. “Her willingness to fully integrate herself into the Connecticut community and be an example for young and old alike speaks volumes about her -- most importantly as a person. Her ongoing work for the Pat Summitt Foundation, as well as many other charitable causes, is a testament to her character and commitment to helping others. She is a big reason for our success on the court this season, but she will have an even greater long-lasting effect off the court.”
This season Lawson is averaging career highs in points (15.1 ppg), assists (4.0 apg) and rebounds (3.9). For her career, Lawson has appeared in 318 games, averaging 9.9 points, 2.4 assists and 2.5 rebounds. Lawson helped the Sun finish with an overall record of 25-9, second best in the league and No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the 2012 WNBA Playoffs presented by Boost Mobile.
“I followed the WNBA from the beginning,” Lawson said. “I was in high school when it started so I got a chance to watch Houston winning four in a row and the first couple of championships with Kim. Being a point guard like her, I know the respect she had around the league, so to receive this award in her name means a lot. When you look at the players who have won it on down the line, they’re really high character players. All of those people are people to admire and people who hold themselves to a really high standard when they play the game.”
In honor of being named the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award winner, Lawson will receive $5,000 and a specially-designed trophy from Tiffany & Co. An additional $5,000 will be designated to the charity of her choice. The 2003 UT Torchbearer Award winner has announced she will donate that money to the Pat Summitt Foundation, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation.
“By receiving this award, it allows Damien and me to continue to support the Pat Summitt Foundation,” Lawson said. “We will be designating $5,000 of the award money to our current fundraising campaign to benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation. By donating $50 for every made 3 pointer this season, along with the generous matches and other donations we have to date raised over $19,000. The campaign runs through Nov. 4, and we encourage all those who are able to contribute.”
That Nov. 4 date includes Lawson and husband Damien Barling raising money for the Pat Summitt Foundation through an online campaign centered around their participation in the ING New York City Marathon. To learn more about it and/or contribute, go to http://patsummitt.org/team_lawson.aspx.