LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw has won the prestigious 2012 Roberto Clemente Award.

The Roberto Clemente Award annually honors the Major League Baseball player who exemplifies incredible sportsmanship, charity and community involvement.

Kershaw, 24, is the second Dodger to win the award. Former first baseman Steve Garvey won the award in 1981.

The award is named for Roberto Clemente, the Hall of Famer and 15-time All-Star who died in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve while attempting to deliver supplies to an earthquake ravaged Nicaragua in 1972.

Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said of Kershaw, “His accomplishments on the mound at such a young age are well known to baseball fans, but I am delighted that our game can shine a light on Clayton’s extraordinary efforts — with his wife Ellen —  to make a difference in the lives of children in Zambia. Clayton Kershaw is a leader through his inspiring example, and he is a wonderful representation of the enduring, philanthropic spirit of Roberto Clemente.”

Kershaw was chosen from a list of 30 nominees (one from each team).  A panel of a dozen baseball experts and Clemente’s widow, Vera, made the selection along with a collective fan vote counted as one.

Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, founded Kershaw’s Challenge, a charitable organization that encourages people to help at-risk children and communities in need. The charity has provided assistance to a variety of organizations, including their cornerstone charity, “Arise Africa,” which is helping the Kershaws build and sustain an orphanage for children in Lusaka, Zambia.

In addition to his work in Africa, Kershaw’s Challenge has also supported the Peacock Foundation in Los Angeles, which provides animal-assisted interventions and activities for at-risk youth. Kershaw’s Challenge is also involved with Mercy Street in his hometown of Dallas, Texas. That charity provides mentoring, sports and recreation, vocational and educational opportunities to young people in at-risk communities. Kershaw is also active in Dodgers’ community initiatives such as the off-season Community Caravan, a Habitat for Humanity Build, the distribution of back packs and school supplies to 1,000 under served children and the annual Dodgers Dream Foundation Youth Baseball Camp.

“It is an incredible honor to receive this award,” said Kershaw. “Just being associated with someone like Roberto Clemente is truly humbling and I am extremely grateful.”

The award, sponsored by Chevrolet, was awarded to Kershaw prior to game four of the World Series being played at Commerica Park in Detroit.

Past Clemente winners include Willie Mays, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken Jr., Sammy Sosa, Albert Pujols and Derek Jeter.

For more about Kershaw’s Challenge, click on the following link.


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