The Los Angeles Sports Council has named Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Uchenna Nwosu its inaugural recipient of the Mayor's Community Athlete Award. The award, which will be given out for the first time at this year's L.A. Sports Awards on February 20 at The Beverly Hilton, highlights a Southern California athlete who has given back in an extraordinary way to his or her community.
Nwosu was chosen for his significant support of initiatives and events across numerous Southern California communities.
"While athletes are often recognized for their performance on the field or court, this award showcases the positive impact that athletes can have when they choose to use their platform to make a difference in the lives of others," said Sports Council President & CEO David Siegel.
The Carson, Calif., native began playing football his sophomore year at Narbonne High School before going on to a decorated collegiate career at the University of Southern California. Selected by the Chargers in the second round (48th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft, over the course of two seasons Nwosu has appeared in all 32 possible regular-season contests, recording 72 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and two passes defensed while contributing 15 tackles on special teams. During the 2018 postseason, he registered five tackles, a tackle for loss, three tackles on special teams and an 18-yard strip-sack to seal the Chargers' AFC Wild Card victory at Baltimore.
Nwosu's impact, however, has extended well beyond the field of play.
Actively engaged with several Chargers' charitable programs that include the team's annual bike giveaway, the joint Chargers/Tyson Foods L.A. Regional Food Bank food distribution program, Play60 Jr. Chargers Training Camps encouraging kids to be active for 60 minutes each day and the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" initiative (in which he decorates and donates his cleats to support the Children's Diabetes Foundation), Nwosu also serves as an ambassador for the Chargers' partnership with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Summer Night Lights (SNL) program. In 2018, the Chargers made a three-year, $1.2 million investment in the Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles to support SNL, a proven public safety initiative that keeps the lights on and extends programming at all 32 parks across the city to help kids steer clear of gangs. The Chargers monetary commitment has helped dramatically expand free sports programming during those extended hours.
"Southern California is fortunate to have so many talented athletes who make it a priority to give back to their community," Siegel continued. "While these individuals do not ask for recognition for these contributions, the first-ever Mayor's Community Athlete Award aims to help showcase how these talented individuals make a difference throughout the region with their time, actions, and dedication, helping to highlight what makes our sports community so special."
"Our city's status as one of the world's great sports towns extends far beyond the field of play — it also grows out of the diverse pool of talent in our own backyard," said Mayor Garcetti. "Uchenna Nwosu is the ideal recipient of this inaugural award. He personifies what it means to be an outstanding athlete and an exemplary Angeleno — someone who excels at his craft and brings excellence to his work to lift up young people in our local communities."
Nwosu is equally dedicated to his own passion projects that support his hometown. For the past two years, Nwosu has coached a co-ed flag football team from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carson and, in Spring 2019, helped lead them to a championship. In addition to donating his time to the middle-schoolers, he also underwrote the flag football team's registration fees and secured the flag kits and jerseys from the Chargers. Additionally, Nwosu recently donated gaming consoles, televisions and speaker systems to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center where his father has worked for the past 14 years.
This past December, Nwosu was the Chargers' nominee for the prestigious NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award; an award created to recognize a player's excellence on and off the field.
"We knew we drafted an impact player when we selected Uchenna in the second round in 2018, but what we couldn't have known then was how quickly he would make an impact off the field," said Chargers president of football operations John Spanos after Nwosu's Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination. "It's pretty rare for a second-year player to earn this honor but, then again, that tells you everything you need to know about Uchenna.
"The fact that he was born and raised here, went to college here and now plays professionally here — he has a unique bond with our community, and I think sees a lot of himself in the faces of the children that now look up to him."