For the 10th straight year the IMPACT Foundation and several others in the community celebrated Ronnie Lott, the trophy named after him and all things football, at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach Sunday night.
It wasn't called the 10th annual Lott IMPACT Trophy ceremony, rather the 10th anniversary. Lott and his friends made sure there would be a celebratory theme, mixed in with the usual desire for charity and focus on character.
After all, IMPACT stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.
The award goes to a standout defensive player who shows all those facets. Popularity of the award has grown each year, Lott and others on the award's board say. The award, as well as the charities that benefit in the name of it, has been meaningful throughout the 10 years. The IMPACT Foundation has raised over a million dollars during that time.
"What I like about this event is that we found a real nice community who are caring about the right things," Lott said just before he welcomed Peter Ueberroth into the banquet room. "Right now we're celebrating football and we're celebrating changing people's lives. That's the most important thing."
They were all there to honor linebacker Anthony Barr, who became the first UCLA Bruin to win the Lott IMPACT Trophy.
Barr found character, and his niche, by switching from running back to the other side of the ball. He should be finding a lucrative career very soon, as he could very well be a top-five pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Barr led the Bruins with 20 tackles for losses. He also had 10 sacks, five forced fumbles, four fumbles recoveries and 62 total tackles.
The Lott IMPACT Trophy also has an honorary recipient each year. This year it went to Brian Banks, the former Long Beach Poly star who was wrongly accused of sexual assault.
Banks, who was in prison for more than five years, was exonerated last year. He gained stints on the Seahawks and Falcons before playing a bit in the UFL.
A video of Banks' story was shown before Banks accepted the award. Banks received a standing ovation. He also later announced Barr as the winner.
Lott alluded to Banks during the night as an example of what it takes to win, and what it takes to live with meaning.
"You can't quit," Lott said during his message early in the evening's program. "You gotta believe when you're down. You don't quit in life. These guys, [the award's candidates], they understand what it means not to quit."
The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation will present a $25,000 check to the general scholarship fund at UCLA in honor of Barr's achievement.
The other finalists were Chris Borland of Wisconsin, Devon Kennard of USC and James Morris of Iowa. Each of their schools receive a $5,000 check for their general scholarship funds.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott was the keynote speaker at the event.
"It's amazing what a great job the IMPACT Foundation does and the quality of kids we've been able to honor," said Mike White, the former NFL coach who now lives on Balboa Island and is a member of the board for the award. "I'm really happy to be a part of it and I really enjoy it."
As great as the candidates were, it was virtually expected that Barr would win the award. Lott, whose son Ryan Nece went to UCLA, showed excitement during the night, even though he's a former USC All-American.
"Right now I have powder-blue underwear," he told the crowd with a smile before Barr was announced as the winner.
There are usually light moments, and fun, at the Lott IMACT Trophy ceremony. Overall, the award is something for which Lott and the board members are proud and thankful.
"The award has really been a process of growing," said Terry Donahue, the former UCLA coach and Balboa Island resident who is also on the board. "It has gotten stronger every single year. And, certainly the IMPACT Foundation has gotten stronger and grown each and every year. I think all of us on the board are really pleased with the progress that has been made and happy with what's going on."Copyright © 2015, CT Now