PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Basketball Writers Association has selected selected three people to receive its Most Courageous Awards this year, and one of those recipients is University of Pennsylvania senior forward Dau Jok. He joins Dan Peters of Akron as co-winners of the USBWA’s Most Courageous Award for men’s basketball and Kirsten Moore of Westmont College as the recipient of the Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award for women.
Jok will receive his most courageous award at the USBWA’s honors breakfast at this year’s NCAA Men’s Final Four in Dallas on Monday, April 7. Peters will be presented with his award at an Akron home game in March, while Moore will receive her award prior to the semifinals of the women’s Final Four on Sunday, April 6 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.
In addition, the USBWA will make a contribution to a charity as selected by each award recipient.
All three exemplify what the USBWA’s courage award stands for: inspiration, hope and an undeniable spirit to persevere.
Jok grew up in a world of violence in war-torn Southern Sudan, the son of a Sudanese army general (Dut Jok) who was murdered when Jok was 6.
Three years ago, as a freshman at Penn, Jok established a foundation in his father’s honor to educate Sudanese youth through sports. Since then, Jok has been able to provide soccer balls and basketballs for kids in Sudan. One day he hopes there will be a secondary school, built with money from his foundation.
Jok’s goal to bring peace to his home country. He was named a recipient of the Kathryn Wasserman Davis 100 Projects for Peace award and received a $10,000 grant to help his cause to fight poverty and violence in Southern Sudan.
“I am optimistic because I think I am blessed with some of the resources at my disposal, whether it be human connection, people willing to help or having the solid foundation of people supporting me,” Dau told the Penn Courant in 2011. “I think motivation, passion, (are) contagious. I have 1,000 reasons to smile rather than 100 reasons to be angry, so I have to keep that in perspective.”
Peters, the Director of Basketball Operations for Akron and a 30-year veteran of the coaching profession, was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given a five percent chance to live.
Peters underwent surgery in December for a cancerous tumor in his pancreas but doctors were unable to remove it. Now, it seems as though the entire college landscape has rallied around him, hoping and praying for his survival.
Universities from all across the country have shown their support for Peters by wearing pins or patches in games.
“Whatever happens is OK,” the 59-year old Peters told the Akron Beacon Journal. “I believe God has always taken care of me. I’m in his hands. As much as I would like to live, that may not be the option. I have no regrets. I’m going to try as hard as I can to fight this.”
Moore’s life changed forever two years ago. Happily married and coaching another successful team at Westmont College in California, Moore was eight months pregnant when in May 2012 her husband Alex, age 31, died of a pulmonary embolism following colon surgery.
Seven weeks later, a baby girl was born. Kirsten named her Alexis.
Kirsten feared what might happen for herself, her child and for her team if she didn’t go on. So she continued to coach and the Warriors rallied around her, winning an NAIA women’s national championship for the 2012-13 season and finishing with a record of 30-4.
“It’s not just what I do, but who I am and how I can do some good in the world,” Moore told a local television reporter. “I didn’t care what the scoreboard said at the end of the (national championship). We were already champions. We had overcome. What I felt when we won was ... just a lot of love.
“Extraordinary love can accomplish extraordinary things.”
For more information, contact USBWA Executive Director Joe Mitch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-795-6821.