TAMPA — Amid a busy summer of accolades, former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks was honored Wednesday night with the Lee Roy Selmon Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tampa Bay Sports Commission's fourth annual Sneaker Soiree.
"When I first got the call that I was winning an award named after Lee Roy Selmon, I got the chills," Brooks, 41, said during ceremonies at the TPepin's Hospitality Centre. "Knowing what Lee Roy meant to this community, knowing what he meant to me personally, I couldn't help but feel the chills and wonder 'Am I worthy?' "
Brooks was one of several Tampa Bay area athletes honored at the celebration of sports in the community. The former FSU standout will follow Selmon in receiving two other honors in coming months: enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August and having his jersey retired by the Bucs and joining the team's Ring of Honor in September.
"I just want to do my best to carry on the legacy that Mr. Selmon started, from impacting this community to treating you like he wanted to be treated," Brooks said. "Every memory I have with Lee Roy is always with a smile, always asking what can he do to make your day better."
Area teams celebrated their "moment of the year" for the past 12 months. For the Rays, it was a tiebreaker win to make the playoffs last year. For the Lightning, it was the return of star Steven Stamkos after a broken leg in November. USF honored its men's soccer team winning the American Athletic Conference tournament. And for the Bucs, after a 4-12 season, it was unveiling the team's new uniforms and rebranded logo this spring.
The Tampa Bay sports moment of the year was a nod to the future: Tampa learning it will host the college football national championship game for the 2017 season.
Three of the night's most special winners were area high school students. Durant's Chelsea Baker was recognized for becoming the area's first female high school baseball player. Jefferson cornerback Ernest Mills was honored for overcoming being badly burned as a young child. And Berkeley Prep's Declan Farmer was recognized for being a key member of the United States' gold-medal-winning sled hockey team at the Paralympics in March.
The three finished the ceremonies by presenting mementos of their playing days as gifts to three leaders of area teams: Rays manager Joe Maddon, Lightning coach Jon Cooper and Bucs general manager Jason Licht.