The History of the RWJF Sports Award

In 2005, RWJF launched a first-of-its-kind award, the Patterson Award, named after basketball player, coach and philanthropist Steve Patterson, to celebrate those using sport as a vehicle for social change.

Steve became widely known as a member of three John Wooden NCAA championship basketball teams at UCLA (1969/1970/1971), as an NBA player (1972–76, Cleveland/1976, Chicago), and as head coach at Arizona State University (1985–89). But his contributions off the court—uniting businesses and communities to help those less fortunate—are his most enduring.

2014 marked our 10 year anniversary of honoring impactful athletes and sports organizations. Now, building off of the success of the Patterson Award, we begin the next decade with a new award—the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award—focusing on recognizing those in sport who have an innovative and collaborative approach to making their communities healthier places to live.

Carlette Patterson continues to honor Steve's legacy with the Patterson Award. Contact her at and at