(December 8, 2021, JNS Wire) The Ruderman Family Foundation has today announced five-time NBA All-Star, NBA championship winner and Olympic gold medalist, Kevin Love as the recipient of its Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion in recognition of his outstanding contribution to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and his achievements in the field of inclusion. He will be presented with the award at a ceremony in Boston at a date to be determined.
“I am honored to receive the 2021 Morton E. Ruderman Award from the Ruderman Family Foundation. They are leaders in the mental health field, working to end the stigma by providing tools and resources for those impacted by these issues,” said Kevin Love. “Over the past few years, athletes around the world have shown us incredible courage by shining a light on the mental health toll that comes with extreme pressure. In doing so, they helped kickstart a cultural shift around mental wellness. When I first spoke out about my mental health struggles, it transformed my life. Our goal at the Kevin Love Fund is to inspire people to live their healthiest lives while providing tools for both mental and physical health. We are on a bold mission to impact one billion lives over the next five years.”
Love won an NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 and was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. national team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and the 2012 Summer Olympics. Love has repeatedly taken steps to eradicate the mental health stigma by sharing stories of his struggles with depression, anxiety, and other challenges. In March 2018, he revealed in an article for The Players’ Tribune that he had been seeing a therapist for several months following a panic attack during a game in November 2017.
Following through on that commitment, Love established the Kevin Love Fund, with the goal of assisting more than 1 billion people over a five-year period. In 2020, the Fund pledged $500,000 — matched by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Centennial Term Chair Match — to establish the Kevin Love Fund Chair in UCLA’s psychology department, which helps diagnose, prevent, treat, and destigmatize anxiety and depression. The fund has also donated to Bring Change To Mind, Just Keep Livin’ Foundation, the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Dreamers Youth, the Born This Way Foundation, and more.
In addition to grantmaking, the Kevin Love Fund has also aligned with the meditation and mindfulness app Headspace as a strategic partner to support their vision of improving the health and happiness of the world. Together, the two organizations have provided student-athletes at UCLA with year-long subscriptions to the app to incorporate it into their training regimens.
And in 2022, after two years of development and piloting, and in collaboration with k-12 educators and social emotional learning experts, the Kevin Love Fund is launching a high school curriculum that supports students in expressing emotion and destigmatizing challenges with mental health. Through the fund’s unique approach, educators model vulnerability by sharing their own life experiences, while students are encouraged to express emotions through creativity and project-based learning.
“In both word and action, Kevin has played an instrumental role in destigmatizing mental health and bringing this long-overdue conversation out in the open, while expanding access to much-needed resources,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “He has served as a high-profile role model for countless people facing mental health challenges, who can now use his courage and determination as a guiding light. We are proud to honor Kevin with the Morton E. Ruderman Award for these inspired efforts.”
The Kevin Love Fund, meanwhile, has made a concerted effort to address pressing needs in society during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the fund gave $100,000 to the support staff of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, where the Cavaliers play, who were unable to work during the early stage of the coronavirus pandemic. In April 2020, the fund sent a truckload of lunches to the staff of the Cleveland Clinic’s Medical Intensive Care Unit and its COVID-19 testing sites, while appearing via FaceTime to personally thank the healthcare workers there.
The award, now in its eighth year, was named after Morton E. Ruderman, a founder of the Ruderman Family Foundation. A successful entrepreneur, mentor, and proud family man, he saw his success as the result of help he received from others and was therefore passionate about providing opportunities for others — including assisting many people in becoming independent and successful in business. In prior years, the award has gone to advocates from several societal sectors, including Academy Award-nominated actor Taraji P. Henson, acclaimed filmmakers Peter and Bobby Farrelly, decorated Olympian Michael Phelps, Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, former U.S. senator and driving force behind the Americans with Disability Act Tom Harkin, disability self-advocate Ari Ne’eman, and Harvard University Professor Dr. Michael Stein.