The Dallas Mavericks have selected veteran swingman Josh Richardson as the team’s nominee for the January NBA Cares Community Assist Award, presented by Kaiser Permanente, for his continuous efforts to support military families and frontline healthcare workers.

The NBA Cares Community Assist Award is one the highest off-court honors any NBA player can receive. Each team selects their most charitable player for the month to earn a nomination and then a league committee chooses the player who best reflects the passion that the NBA and its players share for giving back to their communities.

“My family instilled in me early on the value of service, and that communities are created and sustained by our ability to support and serve others,” Richardson said. “I’m grateful to the Mavs organization and community for welcoming me with open arms; supporting Dallas is a priority for me.”

Richardson is currently playing in his sixth NBA season and first with the Dallas Mavericks. Despite only joining the team a few months ago, he’s already making a lasting impact across the region.

“Upon arriving in Dallas, Josh Richardson jumped in immediately, identifying needs in the North Texas community,” said Emily Luth, Dallas Mavericks community relations manager. “We have a team full of players who are always willing to step up and serve the community, so it’s always difficult to select just one nominee each month. However, Josh went above and beyond this month and we are extremely thankful for his commitment and desire to make a lasting impact in the lives of countless people.”

Usually when players are nominated for the monthly NBA Cares Community Assist Award, a player is devoted to one main charity or outreach cause. However, what makes Richardson so unique is his desire to serve people in a variety of ways and he’s constantly coming up with new outreach ideas to target a different group of people.

During Christmas, he brought holiday cheer to local children of fallen military heroes and surprised them with presents, shoes and other goodies. Richardson also serves as a longtime mentor to high school sophomore Elijah Byrd, who lost his military father to a roadside bomb during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Then just last week, Richardson gifted 40 pairs of Reebok shoes and Mavs swag to frontline healthcare workers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Even more remarkable is the donation came at a time that Richardson is currently in the NBA’s health and safety protocol himself.

Luth said that since Josh could not attend in person, he recorded a special video message for frontline workers to thank them for their commitment and service as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

“It’s important you remember that there are people out there that are thinking of you,” said Richardson. “I know this is tough, but I appreciate, and I know everybody else appreciates, your dedication through this pandemic so far and through the end of this.”


Josh Richardson was born into a world of service. His mother, Alice, is a veteran of the United States Air Force reserves. His father, Michael, is a retired firefighter and would often load Josh in the firetruck and they’d venture out into the streets of Edmond and Oklahoma City, Okla.

Early in his NBA career, Richardson became a staunch supporter of an organization called TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors), and over the years, he’s hosted shopping sprees and volunteered for countless programs to assist children grieving the loss of a military parent.

When Richardson arrived in Dallas, he quickly introduced TAPS to the Dallas Mavericks and six days before Christmas, he surprised 20 TAPS children with presents and special gifts to bring the youngsters some holiday cheer.

“To sit down with these kids (over the years) is humbling,” Richardson said. “They are telling me their father passed and they are like seven years old. It’s unimaginable for any kid to go through that at that age. To be able to see these kids still having fun is very rewarding.

“I just wish more people knew about (their experiences) because it’s tough. I feel like this is something that people would never know if they didn’t get to talk to the kids. So just being able to learn some of the stories is just a huge help for me.”

He said that the gifts can never make up for the loss of loved ones, but he feels a tremendous amount of respect for the families. Richardson added that the holidays tend to be especially hard on families coping with the loss of loved ones.

“Josh has commitment and a connection with military families,” Luth shared. “Time and time again, he has shown his passion to connect and give back to those families in any way he can. Josh has worked with the TAPS organization through his time at the Heat, the 76ers and now the Mavs. He is proud to be able to connect with and host events for military families who have lost a love one no matter what city he is in.”

Diana Hosford has been with TAPS since 2013 and created a program that would allow TAPS to create meaningful opportunities for the families of the fallen through sports. This led to the partnerships with athletes like Richardson.

“The TAPS children find connection with other grieved military kids,” Hosford shared. “A lot of children who have lost a loved one in the military might go to school with a bunch of kids who haven’t had that experience, but when they come to TAPS they find their tribe, so to speak.”

Hosford said it’s also vital to have athletes with a military background, like Josh, because they’re able to connect with children on a closer level.

“They look at Josh and they think ‘amazing NBA player, phenomenal athlete’ but even more, they see a military kid. He grew up having a mom in the service, just like them. So the connection that someone like Josh can make with the kids also empowers them and makes them feel excited and happy. Josh takes the time to celebrate the life and service with those kids and gives them time to smile and be joyful.”


January is National Mentoring Month and the NBA Family has partnered with MENTOR since 2014 to help raise awareness about the impact mentors can have in communities.

If there was an NBA player that should serve as the face of the program, Richardson would certainly fit the bill, said Jessica Byrd, who is the mother of high school sophomore, Elijah Byrd.

Elijah’s father and Jessica’s late husband, LCPL John T. Byrd, died on October 30, 2004, along with seven other Marines from a suicide car bomb in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

A few years ago, Josh and Elijah were paired up for the Sixers’ “Walk In My Shoes” mentorship program. However, the friendship didn’t end there. Ever since then, Richardson has remained a fixture in Elijah’s life.

“Josh is just so humble,” Jessica said. “One thing that always stuck out to me about him is Josh doesn’t do the mentorship like a lot of people approach it. He talks to my son like he’s a normal person and not this project or something that needs to be saved. He doesn’t lecture Elijah and try to prove his manhood. He’s always been just a nice person and friend. That’s how I think a mentorship should be.”

Luth recently had a chance to sit in a virtual Zoom meeting with Elijah and his mother. She said it’s clear that Richardson is a valued role model and leader in Elijah’s life.

“He is able to connect so well with the children and their families due to his military background,” Luth said. “He was raised with the belief to serve and give back to others and is committed to do just that.”

When asked whether Richardson should win the overall NBA Cares Award for this month, Diana Hosford with TAPS said the answer is “absolutely.”

“Josh really does represent what is so great about athlete participation,” said Hosford. “He makes it meaningful. It’s not a one and done. It’s not an autograph and a selfie. It’s meaningful connections that last. Those kinds of moments are what we have always wished for…it’s an organic relationship that exists. Every time Josh connects with Elijah, he’s honoring Elijah’s father.”

Luth said that Richarson has really set the standard for the Dallas Mavericks this season and his work is not yet finished.

In fact, this is just the beginning.

In just a few weeks, Richardson will virtually read to children to promote the joy of reading.

“COVID-19 has affected the morale of many, especially students and teachers,” Luth said. “To encourage the love of reading and add some excitement to a special classroom’s week, Josh will virtually read to a first-grade classroom from Dallas ISD at the beginning of February.”

She said that each student will receive a copy of the book he reads to follow along in person and students will get the opportunity to ask the Maverick questions about school, basketball and of course, reading.

For Richardson, helping others has always been important in his life.

“I just think that anyone that I can help and bring happiness and joy to their lives is an opportunity I and anyone else should jump at,” he said.

The NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente recognizes an NBA player each month who best reflects the passion that the league and its players share for giving back to their communities, and honors the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson, who improved the community piece by piece. Last season, Mavericks veteran Dwight Powell was named one of five recipients for the yearlong 2019-20 NBA Cares Community Assist Award, becoming the first player in franchise history to win the season award.

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