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True Grit returns to honor athletes

February 20, 2004

The true spirit of sports will again have its day.

The True Grit Award, a tribute to the inspirational stories in area sports, will return on May 11 at the Four Points Sheraton after a five-year hiatus.

The award is given to high school student-athletes who may not be the stars of their teams but more often than not have overcome great obstacles to compete.

One senior from each Washington County high school - both public and private - and a student from Hagerstown Community College will receive the award.

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The True Grit Award banquet was held annually from 1975-99. For many years, the program was run by the International Management Council, the leadership management program of the Hagerstown YMCA.

The True Grit Award returns, thanks to the sponsorship of the YMCA and several area businesses.

Adrian Branch, the former University of Maryland and Los Angeles Lakers basketball player, will be the guest speaker for the event. Branch has become a motivational speaker, giving talks to youth groups around the country since retiring from the NBA.

Branch was a Washington-area high school standout who went on to star at the University of Maryland. He played with Michael Jordan in the McDonald's High School All-Star Game and posted 24 points - six shy of Jordan's total - and was named the game's MVP.

At Maryland, he was a two-time All-America honorable mention and is the school's third all-time leading scorer.

He was drafted in the second round by the Chicago Bulls in 1985 and was a member of the 1987 Lakers NBA championship team with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The True Grit banquet has had many prominent guest speakers, including Jesse Ventura, before he was elected governor of Minnesota, and former University of Maryland football coach Bobby Ross, who is now the head coach at Army.

This year's True Grit recipients will each receive a $500 scholarship to the college of their choice and a one-year membership to the YMCA. The awards are being donated by area businesses..

Tickets for the True Grit banquet, though not yet on sale, will be available at the YMCA.

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