The 14th annual Greater Cleveland Sports Awards held at the Renaissance Hotel Jan. 25 reminded Clevelanders that there is plenty to be proud of in Northeast Ohio, even if the Browns did not make it to the Super Bowl.
Browns great Bernie Kosar, a long-time Rocky River resident, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The Youngstown native became an instant Cleveland icon when he was drafted by the Browns in 1985 and walked into to his first press conference in a baby blue tank top and shorts. His time with the team saw his leadership take the beloved franchise to the AFC championship three times. It was an era that Cleveland fans long to repeat.
“I am humbled and honored to be given this year’s award,” said Kosar to a sell-out crowd. “I want to thank the Cleveland community for their unwavering support. Cleveland is a special place made up of special people.”
Many of those ‘special people’ who were in attendance reminded all just how great a sports community Cleveland is, even though our Super Bowl hopes have never been realized.
Ohio State great and NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter emceed as awards in different categories were presented by local greats such as Austin Carr, Jim Chones and Hanford Dixon. Also on hand were notables like former Cleveland Cavs greats Austin Carr and Jim Chones, Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, former Ohio State great Maurice Clarett and Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, who played his high school football at Walsh Jesuit.
Locally, Westlake High senior Courteney Belmonte was presented with the Cleveland Clinic Courage Award by Cleveland Indians Manager Terry Francona.
Courteney’s story is one of making a comeback from a serious spinal condition to return to her beloved sport, cheerleading. Her physician, Cleveland Clinic Specialist Dr. Ryan Goodwin, looked on from the audience with Courteney’s parents, Tony and Patty Belmonte of Westlake. Courteney is a cheerleader for the Westlake High football and basketball teams.
Collegiate Athlete of the Year honors went to Cook, quarterback for the Big Ten championship Michigan State Spartans. Cook, who might look great in a Browns uniform some day, just completed his sophomore year at MSU with an exciting Rose Bowl victory. His award was presented by Browns quarterback and St. Ignatius grad Brian Hoyer along with former OSU great Maurice Clarett.
The Greater Cleveland Sports Awards were created in 2000 by the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission as its annual fundraising event. Over the past 13 years, the Sports Awards has become the Sports Commission’s largest fundraiser and supplies the organization with a significant portion of its operating budget. Since 2000, the Sports Commission has been responsible for attracting and creating over 150 sporting events and activities to the Greater Cleveland area, generating more than $400 million in economic impact.
Jason Giambi’s Walk Off Cleveland Sports Moment of 2013