Swin Cash To Be Honored At 5th Annual Chuck Cooper Foundation Awards Luncheon On February 18th

WNBA’s Swin Cash to be honored at Pittsburgh awards luncheon

Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, 12:01 a.m.

McKeesport Area High School basketball legend and WNBA star Swin Cash will be honored at the fifth annual Chuck Cooper Foundation Awards Luncheon at noon Wednesday in the Lexus Club at Consol Energy Center.

Cash, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays for the New York Liberty, will receive the foundation’s Career Leadership, Diversity and Community Service Award.

The foundation was established in 2011 in the name of the late basketball star Chuck Cooper, who played for Duquesne University before becoming the first black basketball player drafted into the NBA by the Boston Celtics in 1950.

The foundation grants scholarships to black students who have enrolled or plan to enroll in a master’s-level or higher program of study at local universities. So far, it has awarded $31,000 in scholarships and $3,000 in book stipends.

Cooper’s son, Chuck Cooper III, is the foundation’s president and founder. He said Cash is a deserving recipient for the award.

“Swin has not forgotten where she came from but is committed to making where she came from a better place,” he said. “We look at what she accomplished on the basketball court, what she continues to work on in her community. She’s a perfect example of someone who went through school, got her education and is willing to come back and share what she accomplished.”

Cooper said the luncheon is the foundation’s primary fundraiser, and the public is welcome to attend. Ticket details were not available at presstime.

To be considered for a scholarship, applicants should be attending or about to attend a graduate program at Robert Morris University, Duquesne University, the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University or Point Park University. Students who have completed their undergraduate education through The Pittsburgh Promise program are eligible.

Cooper said the foundation was started to address a lack of scholarships serving black graduate-level students.

The NBA recently produced a video short called “Barrier Breakers” that features imagery of Chuck Cooper and other groundbreaking NBA stars set to the audio of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

The elder Cooper earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota in 1960 after his playing days were over. He went on to work in Pittsburgh government and was a supporter of social causes.

“We’re more proud of his social work and more proud of his degree than of his NBA accomplishments,” his son said.

More information about the Chuck Cooper Foundation and the luncheon is available from Ariele Martinez at 412-607-5711 or ariele@chuckcooperfoundation.org.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com