Darryl Dawkins Big Heart Award: Leah Chase

November 12, 2015

On November 20-22, The Legends Fantasy Weekend will take place at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, pairing the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

During the weekend, the NBRPA will host its annual Legends Philanthropy Awards Gala on Saturday, November 21, featuring a star-studded line-up of remarkable players who made the game faster and more exciting.

At the gala, the NBRPA will honor some of the country’s greatest athletes and other civic leaders for their contributions both on and off the playing court. The NBRPA is proud to announce Leah Chase as its inaugural Darryl Dawkins Big Heart Award recipient.

Darryl Dawkins recently passed away this year. Known for his big smile, personality, and ferocious dunks, Dawkins was more than anything known for his huge heart. While a great player on the court, Dawkins made an even bigger impact as a community ambassador and philanthropist off the court.

Leah Chase is someone who embodies exactly the type of huge heart and genuine kindness that was seen in Dawkins. Known as “The Queen of Creole Cuisine,” and collector and advocator for African-American art and Creole cooking, Chase is a well-renowned New Orleans chef, author and television personality. Her restaurant, Dooky Chase, is one of the best-known and most culturally significant restaurants in New Orleans. The restaurant was one of the only public places in New Orleans where mixed race groups could meet to discuss strategy for the local Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s. “That's been my whole life, and I'm not going to change,… There've been a lot of problems solved in that dining room over a bowl of gumbo. There will be a lot more.”

Along with being a masterful chef, Chase is known for her warm spirit and her significant contributions to education, creative and culinary arts and social justice. Chase’s vibrant personality and spirit even served as the inspiration for Princess Tiana in Disney’s Princess and the Frog.