Former Suns team owner Jerry Colangelo being honored for '50 years of golden achievements'
A month from turning 82 years young, Jerry Colangelo has lived a life filled with countless achievements, but this latest one is very special and dear to his heart.
The former Suns team owner will be recognized at Wednesday's Jerry Colangelo 50 Years of Golden Achievements Tribute Luncheon beginning at noon at Chateau Lux.
"This is all news to me," Colangelo said Tuesday afternoon. "It's all come up in the last 24 hours that (Gregg Ostro) wanted to recognize the last 50 years of my existence."
Presented by Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC), the luncheon will announced the Jerry Colangelo Integrity Scholarship Endowment that will provide scholarships to students attending accredited Arizona college, trade, technology and art schools.
"Recognizing 50 years is just a tribute to the consistency and the commitment that he's had to the local community," Suns current team owner Robert Sarver said. "He's been involved and been so open to supporting so many organizations in need around the community."
Colangelo described the event honoring him as humbling.
"Sometimes it's uncomfortable, but if there's really a good cause behind it, I can get through it," Colangelo said. "I've been blessed with the ability to raise money for a lot of good causes in the community, raising funds for all the kinds of needs within the community. So you can call it a curse or you can call it a blessing. I'll call it a blessing."
There will be a video tribute for Colangelo.
"To me, I was given this platform," Colangelo continued. "I'm a Christian. So I would say God gave me this platform and all I'm doing is taking a step at a time doing what I think he wants me to do. He set the platform. I'm just playing it out. That's all I'm doing. So I can keep my feet on the ground that way, thinking about why am I here now in the first place? Is to make a contribution, make your community a better place to live and helping those who have needs and I've tried to focus resources and time to accomplish just that."
Sarver donated $15,000 through Phoenix Suns charities towards the scholarships.
"I was very pleased to hear that Robert has chosen to make a contribution for that purpose," Colangelo said. "It made me feel very good."
Sarver got word about the scholarships last week and proceeded to make a donation as he's been a partner with Chicanos Por La Causa for almost 40 years.
"Jerry is very worthy of the tribute for everything he's done for our community here," Sarver said. "So (the endowment) was something we decided to invest in."
Colangelo said more than $100,000 is expected to be raised for the scholarships.
"That's exciting to me when you can make a difference in people's lives and think of kids that would never go to school," he said. "I know myself, had it not been for sports, had it not been for the ability to shoot a basketball, throw a baseball, I would've never gone to college. It did wonderful things for me and to give young people an opportunity to make something of their lives, I really enjoy that very much."
Colangelo and Sarver are the last two owners of the Suns,. Colangelo sold the team to Sarver in 2004.
"It was the beginning of a new era in the history of the franchise," Colangelo said. "The fact that he did this gesture, to me, was very heartwarming to me and it's very much appreciated that he chose to do that. And the fact the wanted to participate, I was very happy to hear it."
In looking back on Colangelo's impact on the community, Sarver pointed to him having the Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks play their home games in downtown as the beginning of "a 24-hour city" for Phoenix. Colangelo also was owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks until 2004, and instrumental in bringing the Major League Baseball team to Phoenix.
"Most larger cities, I say a 24-hour city, they have office, retail and residential," Sarver said. "And for years, Phoenix was just known as a place to go to work. Everyone came in the morning, everyone left at night, but when the old America West Arena (for the Suns) was built and then followed up with the baseball stadium, that helped turn the narrative of downtown Phoenix into more of a 24-hour city and a place where people were actually going downtown after work and on the weekends and was really the impetus for the residential that's been built downtown, the retail that's been built downtown. So it started the transformation of downtown Phoenix."
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