H-TOWN HEROS

Local sports legends shine at second annual Houston Sports Awards

Alex Bregman was a big hit. Photo by Paul Muth.

Originally appeared on CultureMap Houston.

From Olympic gold medalists to World Series champions, heavyweight boxing greats to football and basketball MVPs, the blue carpet at the second annual Houston Sports Awards was a veritable line of legends at the Hilton Americas Downtown.

The Houston Sports Awards were created last year to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of Houston's own sporting community, both past and present. Last year featured the first round of inductees: Hakeem Olajuwon, Earl Campbell, and Nolan Ryan.

This year's awards dinner was hosted by longtime Houston Sports commentator Bill Worrell, and featured A-list award presenters such as Calvin Murphy of the Houston Rockets, Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans, and former Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, fresh from his Super Bowl appearance with the Los Angeles Rams.

The Houston Sports Authority inducted Hall of Fame golfer Jack Burke, Jr., racing legend AJ Foyt, hometown hero and heavyweight champion boxer George Foreman, and Houston Oilers quarterback (and man about town) Dan Pastorini.

"This is extra special to me," Foreman told CultureMap on the red carpet. "These are legends, can you believe? I didn't even know that I'd meet them one day."

As one of the late arrivals, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was greeted to massive cheers from frenzied fans. Upon learning mid-interview that the crowd was composed of mostly students from tragedy-stricken Santa Fe High School, Bregman pulled away from the media, slid off the blue carpet and spent roughly five minutes taking selfies and signing autographs for the students.

"I'm happy to have them here," Bregman told us.

This year's Coach of the Year award was accepted via satellite from Sacramento — Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni won out over fellow nominees AJ Hinch of the Houston Astros, Bill O'Brien of the Houston Texans, and University of Houston men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson.

The Moment of the Year award was a tight field among the professional sports, but it was the late additional nomination of North Shore High School's State Championship-clinching Hail Mary reception that took home the hardware.

"It's an incredible experience, and one that I don't think people understand unless you're in the Houston area," Head Coach Jon Kay told CultureMap. "This trophy's going to be in the field house, right next to our state championship."

Houston Texans star defensive end, JJ Watt received his second consecutive Sportsmanship Award for his selfless work with the victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting. Watt took the trophy from the former SFHS students presenting and handed it right back to the students to keep.

The evening continued as High School Athlete of the Year was presented to Woodlands High School track and football standout Kasean Clark, while University of Houston quarterback D'Eriq King received the College Athlete of the Year.

"It's been a lot of hard work since my high school days," King explained after receiving the award. "It's very humbling, and I'm excited that I get to play in my hometown in front of my family and friends. It's just been a wild ride."

The evening reached its peak when the Athlete of The Year segment began. The Houston Sports Authority was tasked with choosing between breakout Astros' Alex Bregman, Rockets (and NBA) MVP James Harden, Texans first team All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and gold medal gymnast phenom Simone Biles.

To find out who won, read the rest of the story on CultureMap.

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TEXANS TRAINING CAMP WATCH

11 Texans training camp observations from August 7th

Houston Texans insider dishes on why Derek Stingley Jr was the right pick

The Houston Texans had a “vanilla” day of light work. Here are 11observations from the workout.

1. It was a light day for the Texans. Some would say sluggish, I wouldn’t agree with that. Did it look like a day off was in order? Yes. Did anyone make mental mistakes because of their energy level? Not that I could see. With it being a lighter day, it might be worthwhile to focus on some of the depth on the roster.

2. Isaac Yiadom (pronounced YEAH-dum) has had some moments in training camp. With rookie Derek Stingley having a light day, Yiadom played opposite Steven Nelson. Yiadom has had a few pass breakups and seems to be physical in coverage. He has a little speed to him, or he’s shown the ability to stick with wideouts. He is a top preseason game target to watch.

3. Phillip Dorsett had a very nice back-of-the-end zone catch. It might have, likely even, been a sack for the defense in a live rep or team rep, but Davis Mills ripped the ball out as the whistle was starting to sound. Dorset with two feet in the back after juking a defender. He is squarely behind other wideouts having missed time but being a veteran should catch up quickly.

4. Wideout Connor Wedington had a few nice plays on Sunday. He has an uphill battle to make the roster, but Davis Mills’ former teammate might squeeze his way into the conversation. There are opportunities for him with a few other wideouts banged up.

5. Rookie tight end Teagan Quitoriano bodied his way for a touchdown. The rookie hasn’t done much in camp, but his size is clearly an advantage. Game reps and more padded practice will be important for him this preseason.

6. Chris Moore is a veteran taking yet another swing at making this team. If the Texans played tomorrow, I would have him on the roster. Probably even starting at slot wideout. He had a very nice leaping grab today.

7. Versatility for a couple of backup offensive linemen may lead to them making the team. Well, it certainly won’t hurt their case. Justin McCray has played all three interior offensive line spots. The veteran could start if needed, but I have to imagine he is a key backup inside. Scott Quessenberry (yes related to former Texans lineman David and current fullback Paul) played guard on Sunday. He is a factor to be Justin Britt’s backup at center.

8. Charlie Heck was not a pick I was in love with when Bill O’Brien selected him a couple of seasons ago. Heck has grown a lot in his game and physically and is surely the backup tackle for this team. He can play left and right tackle.

9. Tae Davis plays linebacker and wears 19. It is the strangest thing to see a linebacker in that number. It has not been strange to see Davis make a play here or there in practice. The linebacker room is loaded but Davis is making the most of his chances.

10. Ka’imi Fairbairn HAMMERED a ball right down the uprights after Davis Mills had led the team into field goal range on a last-minute drill. Mills easily moved the team down the field without the normal group of linemen or weapons. Good finish to practice.

11. Jonathan Greenard did some pushups after he couldn’t replicate history. Greenard almost had his second interception of Davis Mills, but the ball fell incomplete. Greenard has been a force in training camp.

Bonus Quote of the Day: “I was a fat guy last year” said Pharaoh Brown as he talked about his leaner and quicker frame compared to last year.

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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