Former NBA and BBL centre John Amaechi hopes his Order of the British Empire for services to basketball can inspire other British prospects to aspire to chase seemingly impossible dreams in the sport.

The now retired England international – who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and the Utah Jazz – as well as a host of leading European clubs, was also honoured in the Queen’s Birthday List for his work with troubled youth on both sides of the Atlantic.

After setting up his own basketball centre in his native Manchester, the 40-year-old has worked with the Big Brothers mentoring scheme while devoting much of his time to political activities surrounding social inclusion and gay rights.

Having been told that he was “too late for the game” after only starting basketball at the age of 17, Amaechi admits the award is further payback for his fight against the odds.

Amaechi in his NBA days

“I believe that much of my success is directly attributable to my family and close friends who have always supported me, as well as to those individuals and organisations with whom I have been privileged to partner over the years, to promote equality and human rights here in the UK and across the world,” he said.

“I see this honour as a chance to reach out and do more to create an equality of opportunity for all people, but especially to inspire young people.  I was once an overweight bookworm who hid in the corner of my school library and wished I was invisible.

“My mother told me that I could do better than just disappear – she convinced me that the most unlikely of people, in the most improbable of situations can become extraordinary.  I hope to use this platform to convince other young people just how true this can be for them too.”

David Stern, the Commissioner of the NBA, added to the tributes to the one-time Sheffield Sharks star.

“John Amaechi is an inspiration to millions, and a great ambassador for his country and the sport of basketball,” said Stern. “As a consummate professional during his playing days and through his continued community service, John truly represents the ideals of the NBA.

“On behalf of the entire NBA family, I want to congratulate John. I can think of no-one more deserving of such a prestigious honour.”


Ex-Jets star Cameron gets Queen’s award

Also recognised is Chester Jets legend Pero Cameron who was named as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, for services to basketball.

The former Tall Black, who retired last summer, was one of the Jets greatest ever players as well as making the World Championship’s All Star team in 2002 when New Zealand made an unlikely run to the semi-finals.

Since calling time on his illustrious playing career, he coached the Wellington Saints to last year’s National Basketball League title in his debut season and has been named as an assistant with his national side.



Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • MySpace
  • Print

You must be logged in to post a comment Login