Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw has been named the winner of the 2013 Branch Rickey Award, Major League Baseball announced. The award recognizes those who contribute to their community and are strong role models.
"Branch Rickey is a pretty influential person, especially to this franchise. So it has a little bit special meaning to me," said Kershaw to the Associated Press. "My wife and I, we just feel so fortunate we get to do stuff off the field. To get recognized for it definitely isn't what we're in it for. But it definitely is a humbling thing to get that honor. More than anything, it just kind of brings more awareness nationally to what we're trying to do, not only in Africa but what else our foundation stands for. It's a huge honor for us, and we're just grateful for it."
Kershaw and his wife Ellen founded "Arise Africa," a charity that has built and maintained an orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia. The Kershaws travel to Africa each offseason to visit with children and bring awareness of diseases and infections related to HIV and AIDS. They also founded Kershaw's Challenge, a foundation that works to transform at-risk children and communities both in Los Angeles and Kershaw's hometown of Dallas. He has been donating $500 to the charity for each batter he strikes out since 2011.
At 25 years old, Kershaw is the youngest player ever to be honored with the Branch Rickey Award. Previous winners include R.A. Dickey, Shane Victorino, Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter. Kershaw received the Roberto Clemente Award last year for his sportsmanship and off-field endeavors.
At 14-8 with most strikeouts (209), best ERA (1.89), and best WHIP (0.92) in the league, Kershaw is the overwhelming favorite for this year's NL Cy Young Award.