PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland is still benefiting from the legacy of a man who helped secure the city’s only NBA championship.
The Trail Blazers won the championship in 1977 with the help of forward Maurice “The Enforcer” Lucas, beating the Philadelphia 76ers in 6 games.
The win came just 7 years after Portland was awarded an NBA franchise.
Like their bright, fast-burning rise to the top, the Blazers — and Maurice — became instant stars.
“Portland embraced him and embraced that team,” said Maurice’s son, David Lucas. “It just made it special, and it’s still special to this day.”
Maurice passed away in 2010 from bladder cancer. His son told KOIN 6 News not a day goes by that he doesn’t miss his dad.
But David keeps his memory alive through the Maurice Lucas Foundation. Maurice started the organization to give at-risk kids a solid start.
“He was very, very, very passionate about our students, our youth and our up-and-coming leaders in this community,” David said.
The ML20 Foundation mentors middle school students and supports their families all the way through high school. It takes them on field trips to universities and businesses and also offers college scholarships.
“We really focus on character traits like respect, leadership integrity — teaching in the classroom, teaching in the gym,” David said.
The community has gotten behind the foundation. Its supporters include the Blazers and many local corporations. The foundation hosts 2 big fundraisers every year, including a celebrity golf tournament during the summer and a gala on September 7 at the Portland Hilton.
David said the program has seen major growth since its inception.
“We’re at Tubman Middle School,” he said. “We’re at 4 schools funneled into Tubman now — there’s 500-plus students.”
The first students to be mentored by the ML20 Foundation are now on their way to college. David said his dad would be extremely proud.
“We’re truly blessed. My dad left a really big legacy behind and you know, his spirit has been living on, since he passed.”