A hof night
Local legends and A-listers rock the runway in star-studded Houston Sports Awards
Donning his fresh, new white Houston Sports Awards Hall of Fame jacket and addressing an adoring crowd at 713 Music Hall on Tuesday, January 30, former Houston Astros star Lance Berkman dropped a signature, witty line that sums up the city he loves — and loves him back.
“How’s the weather? he pretend-asked, describing common questions about his fair city. “Not good. How’s the traffic? Not good. Is it a pretty city? Not really. But, the people are the best.”
Berkman was equal parts hilarious and gracious as he accepted his Houston Sports Award and was officially inducted in the Houston Sports Hall of Fame. He joined fellow legends Cynthia Cooper, the former Olympian and all-star Houston Comets guard, and NFL Hall of Famer and former Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon.
The annual sports award show put on by the Houston Sports Awards and Houston Sports Authority always boasts a who's-who on the awards list and in the crowd.
Matt Clark and Julia Morales.Photo by Marco Torres
Sports celebs current and past strolled the red carpet, mingled, and met with media. CultureMap chatted with the suited-up Bun B, Former Mayor Sylvester Turner, Moon, and Houston Astros ace Lance McCullers, Jr., who served as emcee, among others on the carpet.
Lance McCullers, Jr and Bun B.Photo by Marco Torres
Equally comfortable on the awards stage as he is on the mound, McCullers was dapper and fluid; it was easy to forget he doesn't host each year. LMJ, as fans know him, pointed out that Berkman and he share the Astros and even their wives name — Kara — in common, adding he watched Moon and Cooper as a fan. Berkman, meanwhile, got a special treat: the avid country fan received a surprise serenade by Texas country star Robert Earl Keen, who performed his hit single, “Feeling Good Again.”
Cooper, meanwhile, shared her love for Houston as a former Los Angeles native, delivering an ovation-worthy motivational speech, and even spending extra time onstage after her speech, even though she knew “my time is up.” No matter; the crowd's raucous applause kept her soaking in her magical moment.
Moon thanked his coaches, fellow players (some 20 were in attendance), the city, and his family. He also, like Berkman, drew some serious laughs from the audience" “I wish I had a double-digit number,” the man who wore the iconic No. 1 said after a presentation on his diamond-studded Hall of Fame ring, “I would've gotten more diamonds in my ring.”
Earlier, Moon joined CultureMap on the red carpet to share similarities between he and current Houston Texans superstar QB, C.J. Stroud, praising his poise, composure, and arm. “There's a lot of special things that happened for me here,” he reminisced to us about Houston, noting this is where he launched his NFL career, Crescent Moon Foundation, and even much of his family.
The energetic program featured a warm-hearted tribute to special needs athletes, a theme later echoed by Peggy Turner, who won for Community Impact for her work with disabled athletes. “Athletes are athletes — whether you have a disability or not,” she noted in her acceptance speech.
Former Mayor Sylvester Turner received the Lifetime Civic Champion Award, noteworthy as his eight-year tenure saw the most major sporting events in Houston. Turner, not to be outdone by the inductees, also had the jokes.
“I thought I could be like my brothers in front of me and be a star basketball player,” he said of his scholastic attempts with sports. “The coach said, 'look for something else — this is not it.' So, I became a politician.”
Other winners included Kingwood Park High School assistant coach Eric Coovert, who beat a formidable case of lymphoma and returned to coach and teach his students. Willis High School quarterback D.J. Lagway won Boys High School Athlete of the Year; Lake Creek High School softball pitcher Ava Brown was named Girls High School Athlete of the Year.
High school Coach of the Year went to Jimmy Krueger, the soccer coach at Seven Lakes High School, while Louis Pearce won the Lifetime Achievement Award for his staggering, 66-year work for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
As for Stroud, who was unable to attend, the Texans star rookie QB scored Newcomer of the Year and Athlete of the Year, in what's sure to be a preview to an NFL Rookie of the Year title.