ARLINGTON -- Sharon Robinson presented Hiawatha Williams and Larry Braziel with the first annual Jackie Robinson Community Achievement Award before Wednesday's game. "I'm thrilled the Texas Rangers have honored both these two men," Robinson said. "It's fitting, because on [my father's] plaque it says, 'A life is not important except for the effect it has on others.'" The Texas Rangers Foundations created the award in appreciation of Dallas-Fort Worth citizens whose lives model the values of Jackie Robinson: citizenship, commitment, courage, determination, excellence, integrity, persistence, teamwork and contribution to the community.
Williams became the first African-American area manager in the southwest region for Church's Fried Chicken. He now owns 50 stores with more than 700 employees. "My father was an entrepreneur at heart," Robinson said. "He'd be very proud at how successful [Williams] has been." Williams joked that they made a mistake giving him the award, but he was grateful for the honor. "I always admired the caliber of man [Jackie Robinson] was outside of baseball," he said. "I always tried to emulate some of the traits he had. He's the kind of man I call a hero, and I don't have too many of those." Williams has given back to the community through adopting three Dallas elementary schools and serving as vice president on the Elisha M. Pease Elementary School Advisory Committee. Williams was honored in 1992 with the DFW "Quest for Success" Award and the Dallas Black Chamber's 2007 Small Business of the Year Award. Braziel, a former football player for the Baltimore Colts and Cleveland Browns, is the Eastside Branch director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth. Robinson said her father would admire Braziel because of his accomplishments as an athlete and his dedication of giving back to the community. Braziel said he was surprised to receive the award.
"I was like, 'Where'd they get my name from?'"But, he was very humbled to receive an award named after Jackie Robinson. "He persevered and kept a good attitude and had good character," Braziel said. "It's not something you see in many athletes today." When Braziel retired from football, he went into the ministry serving as associate pastor and youth minister at the Faith Christian Fellowship in Baltimore for seven years. He returned to his hometown, Fort Worth, to minister to youth in the Stop Six area of Fort Worth. Rangers manager Ron Washington has said he would not be in the position he is in today without Jackie Robinson's influence. "My father would be thrilled to know he's inspiring people," Robinson said. "I'm sure he's smiling." Robinson said she is proud to be carrying on the legacy of her father and how Major League Baseball has honored him. "I was stubborn in college," she said. "I never thought of connecting my professional life with my father, but it comes out of growth."
Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.