American basketball player LeBron James, who earned the NBA Finals MVP award for leading the Miami Heat to its second consecutive championship, and South Korean Inbee Park,who became the first golfer to win the first three majors of the season since 1950, were chosen as the United States Sports Academy’s June Athletes of the Month in worldwide online voting.
Meanwhile, Park won both the Wegman’s LPGA Championship and the Women’s U.S. Open in June to become the first golfer, male or female, to win the first three majors of the season since Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias in 1950. Park had also captured the LPGA Championship. She completely dominated the U.S. Open field, leading by six stokes for most of the weekend before cruising to a four-stroke victory.
The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and ballot voting processes. Visit the Academy website at www.ussa.edu to submit your nominations each month, and then return to the website during the first two weeks of each month to vote for the male and female Athletes of the Month. The votes along with an Academy committee choose the winners who become candidates for the Athlete of the Year. The monthly and yearly winners are announced on the Academy’s website and in the sports university’s online edition of The Sport Update.
Finishing second in the men’s category was Patrick Kane, who had an outstanding postseason performance for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. The 24-year-old became the fourth American to ever be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is given to the NHL’s most valuable postseason performer. Kane had 19 postseason points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 23 games. At one point, Kane scored seven goals in seven games.
The runner-up to Park on the women’s ballot was Michelle Carter, who won the women’s shot put with an American record throw of 66 feet, 5 inches, or 20.24 meters, at the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships. It was Carter’s fourth national title outdoors to go along with one indoor title. Carter, a 2012 Olympian at the London Games, surpassed previous record holders Ramona Pagel (1988) and Jillian Camarena-Williams (2011) who threw 66-2.5 feet/20.18 meters.
Third place winners for June were Los Angeles Dodgers rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, who in June became the first player to be named Major League Baseball’s Player of the Month after just one month in the big leagues in the award’s 55-year history; and American Abby Wambach, who broke American Mia Hamm’s all-time women’s soccer scoring record with her 160th career goal in international competition.
James and Park are now eligible for the Academy’s male and female 2013 Athlete of the Year Award. For the 29th consecutive year, the Academy will oversee the worldwide online voting that will take place in December. This prestigious award is currently done in conjunction with NBC Sports.
In 2012, the male Athlete of the Year was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who became the first man ever to win both the 100- and 200-meter races in successive Olympics. The female Athlete of the Year was American tennis player Serena Williams, who became the singles champion at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Olympics. Both Olympians dominated 2012’s online ballot in December, which drew tens of thousands of votes a day from across the world.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission sports university created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.