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Honoring a patron painter and charitable NBA coach at St. Jude Spirit of the Dream

From the canvas to the court, two philanthropists with Memphis ties to be honored for outstanding achievements in advancing lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Memphis, Tennessee, June 28, 2023

St. Jude Spirit of the Dream presented by W&T Contracting Corporation has selected this year’s honorees for its highest accolade: the St. Jude Spirit of the Dream award. The event, to be held Saturday, Sept. 23 at The Guest House at Graceland, brings Memphians together to celebrate the achievements of African Americans who embody the lifesaving mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® and its founder Danny Thomas who believed that no child, regardless of race, should die in the dawn of life.

The eighth annual St. Jude Spirit of the Dream will honor international artist Derek Fordjour and former National Basketball Association (NBA) player and Memphis Grizzlies coach and philanthropist, Lionel Hollins.

Derek Fordjour and Lionel Hollins.

Derek Fordjour: Born in Memphis in 1974 to parents of Ghanaian heritage, Fordjour described growing up and playing on the grounds near the St. Jude campus adjacent to St. Joseph Hospital, where his dad was an oral surgeon. It was during those days as a small child that he said he was drawn to the campus art, murals and prints that encouraged him to dream. The hometown-kid-made-good is still being inspired by St. Jude — In 2020 he created an original work of art that was sold at auction, with 100 percent of the proceeds donated to St. Jude. Fordjour graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and earned a Master’s Degree in Art Education from Harvard University and an MFA in painting from Hunter College. He was appointed The Alex Katz Chair at Cooper Union and served as a Core Critic at Yale University School of Art. Fordjour is based in New York City and has been written about as “one of the art world’s most coveted newcomers,” with his work featured in institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, LACMA, and the Guggenheim Museum.

Lionel Hollins: Born in Arkansas City, Kansas, Hollins was raised by his grandmother and began his illustrious career as a 1975 NBA Draft pick by the Portland Trail Blazers. He earned a spot on the 1976 All-Rookie First team and went on to win an NBA Championship in 1977. With over 40 years of coaching experience, he has coached on all levels and is a well-respected coach and developer of players on and off the court. During his time with the Memphis Grizzlies, he became the winningest coach in franchise history with an improved record each season. Hollins mentored youth at Grizzlies Prep and the Nexus Leadership Program, and created Lionel Hollins Charities (LHC) to further his passion for giving back. Through the charity he raised funds to provide backpacks, supplies, and uniforms to underprivileged students, set up a mentoring program, donated bikes and books to children, and helped start a community garden to promote healthy eating habits. He is an ambassador for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and has raised thousands of dollars for the organization.

Past honorees include:

  • Dr. Rudolph Jackson, (St. Jude Legacy Award) one of the first Black doctors at St. Jude.  
  • The city of Memphis, honored in its bicentennial year for its continued dedication to St. Jude patients.
  • Dr. Sian Proctor, an accomplished civilian astronaut, pilot, advocate for women of color in the space industry, entrepreneur, and professor of American geology.
  • Dr. Patricia Adams-Graves, professor in the hematology/oncology division at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
  • Emily Greer, (St. Jude Legacy Award) a 30-year executive leader, most recently as Chief Administrative Officer for ALSAC.

All event proceeds benefit St. Jude, where families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, so they can focus on helping their child live. To learn more and donate, visit

About St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Its purpose is clear: Finding cures. Saving children.® It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. When St. Jude opened in 1962, childhood cancer was considered largely incurable. Since then, St. Jude has helped push the overall survival rate from 20% to more than 80%, and it won't stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude shares the breakthroughs it makes to help doctors and researchers at local hospitals and cancer centers around the world improve the quality of treatment and care for even more children. Because of generous donors, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, so they can focus on helping their child live. Visit St. Jude Inspire to discover powerful St. Jude stories of hope, strength, love and kindness. Support the St. Jude mission by donating at, liking St. Jude on Facebook, following St. Jude on TwitterInstagramLinkedIn and TikTok, and subscribing to its YouTube channel.