PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — This Black History Month, the Maurice Lucas Foundation is announcing they will celebrate what would have been “the Enforcer’s” 70th birthday with a scholarship drive to support education.
Though Lucas was born in Pittsburgh, the 6 ft.-9 in. power forward became a crucial figure in Oregon’s Black History after he joined the Portland Trail Blazers in 1976 and became the team’s lead scoring player in 1977 – the only year the Trail Blazers won the NBA Championship.
To honor the four-time NBA All-Star’s performance, the Trail Blazers retired Lucas’s number (20) in 1987. Lucas remained in Oregon and continued to contribute to community service until he died of cancer in 2010. He was 58-years-old.
“The late Maurice Lucas is a significant and memorable piece of Black history in Oregon,” The foundation stated. “It’s been 34 years since he last played with the Trail Blazers, 12 years since he served as an assistant coach with the team and 11 years since he passed away. Yet he remains one of the most beloved Trail Blazers of all time among the team’s fans.”
The scholarship drive will begin on the late athlete’s birthday Feb. 18 and is slated to run through March 9. Donations can be made at the foundation’s website.
“The funds donated will go to our Howard Hedinger Memorial Scholarship Fund to support Portland students’ post-secondary schooling,” said David Lucas, son of the late Maurice Lucas and executive director of the foundation. “Dad wore the number 20 when he played for the Trail Blazers. To mark that, we want to raise $20,000 in 20 days.”
The Lake Oswego-based foundation was created by the friends and family of Lucas who wanted to extend the legacy of his work and many contributions, both on and off the court.
“Lucas had a storied 14-year career in professional basketball, but off the court is where he built his legacy of community service.,” the organization stated. “The foundation carries on that legacy by providing a safe environment to ensure all students have an equitable opportunity to earn a high-quality education and access to transformational life opportunities.”