PHOENIX, Ariz. (ABC4) – Three months after his passing, former Utah Jazz big man Mark Eaton has been honored for his kind nature and goodwill by The American Legion, one of the country’s largest veterans associations.
Eaton, who died on May 28 as a result of a bicycle crash near his home in Park City, posthumously received the Legion’s 2021 James V. Day “Good Guy” Award in a ceremony in Phoenix, Arizona this week. When presenting the award to Eaton’s nephew, Timothy Riser, who accepted it on his late uncle’s behalf, it was noted that Eaton had agreed to appear at the organization’s annual convention in Arizona, but had passed away before he could attend and give an address.
“Not everyone who is nominated for this award receives it,” former National Commander of The American Legion John P. “Jake” Comer said during the presentation of the award. “Many celebrities are accustomed to receiving lucrative appearance or speaking fees. We don’t offer that. I say this because those who accept this prestigious award truly have proven to be good people simply by putting veterans above financial gain.”
In his playing days, Eaton, a 7-foot-4 center who spent his entire 12-year NBA career with the Jazz, earned a reputation as an elite shot blocker. He was twice named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year and was an All-Star selection in 1989.
After hanging up his massive basketball shoes and entering retirement, Eaton remained a figure in the Utah community and was known for his speaking and charitable work. The Mark Eaton Standing Tall Foundation has provided sporting and outdoor activities for more than 3,000 at-risk youth, according to the Legion’s press release.
“I am so honored to celebrate this award on behalf of Mark, not just as a Good Guy but as one of the greatest men I have ever known,” Riser said while accepting his uncle’s award.