Retired NBA player, business leader to provide keynote address at 2024 MLK Community Celebration

NBA legend and South Carolina native Alex English will provide the keynote address at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Celebration at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, at the University of South Carolina Aiken Convocation Center, 2049 Champion Way, Graniteville.

The free annual event is co-sponsored by USC Aiken and Aiken Technical College and aims to inspire the community to continue the work of Dr. King by recognizing and advocating for human and civil rights.

English, renowned for his decorated basketball career and his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, played college basketball at the University of South Carolina before being drafted in the 1976 NBA draft. He played 15 seasons in the NBA with four teams and scored more points than any other NBA player during the 1980s. He was named to eight NBA All-Star teams, and his No. 2 jersey was retired by the Denver Nuggets in 1992.

"Having Mr. English, someone who has both witnessed history and made history, speak to our students and community is a tremendous honor," said Gail Diggs, the committee chair. "His experiences, insights, and dedication to justice will surely leave an indelible mark on all who attend."

After his playing career, English was a TV analyst and assistant coach with Toronto, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Sacramento. He later became the first-ever director of player programs for the NBA and an active participant in the Sports Diplomacy's Sports Envoy program for the U.S. Department of State. He dabbled in acting and has been involved in various business ventures in South Carolina, owning both franchises and start-ups.

A member of the USC Board of Trustees since 2020, English currently lives in Blythewood.

As part of the program's aim to celebrate and recognize leaders advancing the civil rights of students on university campuses, nominations are now open for the Human & Civil Rights Student Champion Award.

The award will be presented as part of the Jan. 21 event to two students, one from USC Aiken and one from Aiken Tech, who have demonstrated their efforts to help protect and advance the human and civil rights of students on campus; worked to build inclusive and diverse partnerships with students and faculty on campus; and participated in a campus project or assignment that identifies and encourages the value of diversity, inclusion, and belonging.

Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. Dec. 1, 2023. USC Aiken students can be nominated here, and Aiken Tech students can be nominated here.

Sponsorships are available and can be secured by calling Mary Driscoll at (803) 641-3448 or emailing

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