MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Before The Memphis Grizzlies played the New Orleans Pelicans, four former professional athletes were honored for continuing Dr. Martin Luther King He’s legacy.
The honorees of the 15th Annual Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award were recognized at the game.
“They told me some of the recipients as well that I idolized and grew up watching, so it meant a lot,” said two-time NBA all-star Caron Butler.
Butler along with former NBA player Robert Parish, the first black quarterback to win the Super Bowl Doug Williams and former WNBA superstar Sheryl Swoopes.
Swoopes says she and fellow honoree, Carron Butler have a lot more in common than just basketball.
“This is my cousin. We just found out today,” says Swoopes.
Butler says he’s known for years that he and Swoopes were related, but he just never shared it until they came together in Memphis. Butler’s wife spilled the beans to Swoopes.
“But my Swoopes side which is my dad’s side, I don’t know much about my dad’s side, but we have family in Ohio,” said Swoopes who says she was raised by her single mom.
Butler says, “the Swoopes, Butlers and Griffins” are all related. “And you know what’s crazy is I’m a very emotional person and I kind of found out that he is too,” said Swoopes. “Listen. we cried on the balcony together.”
Swoopes is talking about the balcony at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The Lorraine Motel is now home to the National Civil Rights Museum.
"Like the entire tour for me was emotional but that moment when you walk out on that balcony, for me it was like I was back in that moment,” said Swoopes.
But Dr. King’s dream lives on through the lives of people like Butler and Swoopes who continue to fight to make this place better for the next generation.
When Butler and Swoopes were asked how does it feel to know they both have the same push to help others, Swoopes said, “It runs in the family. I can say that now.”