The award recognizes players each month who best reflect the passion that the league and NBA players share for giving back to their communities.
Richardson is currently playing in his sixth NBA season and first with the Dallas Mavericks. Despite only joining the team at the start of the season, he’s already making a lasting impact across North Texas.
This is the first time he’s won the monthly NBA Cares Award.
“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.”
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.
“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.”
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 last month, 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 was in the NBA’s health and safety protocol himself.
He also visited a Dallas Independent School District first grade class as a guest reader, surprising the students and encouraging them to embrace reading and education during the particular challenges of this school year.
Holiday and Richardson were presented with their awards during special virtual ceremonies with league, Kaiser Permanente and their respective team officials this past week. They will also both be recognized in-arena during their teams’ games this week (Dallas vs. Boston tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT on TNT and Milwaukee vs. L.A. Clippers on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 2:30 p.m. CT on ABC.)
In addition, Kaiser Permanente and the NBA will donate $10,000 on Holiday’s behalf to the Jrue & Lauren Holiday Social Justice Fund and $10,000 on Richardson’s behalf to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
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 loved 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.
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.”
Hosford said that Richardson absolutely deserves to win this honor.
“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.”
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.
“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,” Richardson said.