On Tuesday night (Oct. 13), chart-topping country star Kane Brown was recognized with the 2022 Champion of Youth award during the 75th National Youth of the Year ceremony, sponsored by Toyota, Kohl’s and Mondelēz International.
This award is reserved for individuals who go above and beyond to provide outstanding service to the nation’s leading youth non-profit organization. Brown was honored this year for his ongoing commitment and support towards Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
During his speech, Brown took a moment to acknowledge the stories he had heard from the kids that night, sharing that because of his own childhood, he can directly relate to what they were going through.
“I just wanted to let you know, I grew up just like all y’all did. I went through child abuse, I went through racism…” he began, sharing that because he’s biracial, he has unfortunately come to understand what it’s like to not be accepted, even as an innocent child.
“I just wanna let you know that, I’m not gonna get emotional,” Brown said earning a roar of encouragement from the crowd before continuing. “Everything you go through in life makes you tougher, makes you stronger for every career and dream that you want to do.”
In his speech, he also let the audience know about the time in his life when he lived in his car, a moment that particularly stood out to last year’s national award-winner who also lived in a car at one point.
Brown has continued to show his dedication to serving the Boys & Girls Club, through in-person visits to various clubs and generous donations. In the fall of 2021, Brown presented the organization with a donation that went towards the funding of a major renovation in the gymnasium at the Cleveland, Ohio facility. That same year, he also teamed up with Lowe’s Home Improvement in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn., to upgrade the local Boys & Girls Club facilities. With the help of his contributions, the organizations were able to build a computer lab and a lounge for teenagers.
Previous recipients of the honor include NBA star Lebron James, entertainer Jennifer Lopez, Olympic champion Michael Phelps and the late former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Typically held in Washington D.C., this year’s event marked the organization’s first time in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hills Hilton. A plethora of Boys & Girls Clubs alumni, staff, partners and celebrity supporters gathered at the celebration of teens awarded on the local, state and regional levels throughout the year.
Other attendees included Emmy Award-winning actor Courtney B. Vance, Entertainment Tonight co-host Nischelle Turner, American singer and songwriter Miguel, WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil and The Miz and Oscar-award-winning costume designer and Boys & Girls Clubs alumna, Ruth Carter.
This year, Asha H-R was selected out of the six finalists to receive the highest honor, the 2022-2023 National Youth of the Year, during the recent celebration. This title, which represents over 4 million youth in Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation, was awarded to Asha who has been a member of the local Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington since she was just 9 years old and in that time has been dedicated to the community.
“My Club wasn’t just a safe, affordable after-school option for my parents, it opened up doors of possibility and shut the windows of my insecurities. The table was set, and I had a seat, not because of who I was, but because of who I was becoming,” she shared.
In 2021, Asha took it upon herself to address the issue of food insecurity with local food pantries in Washington D.C. In doing so, she served meals to over 400 families.
According to the organization, “For 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America has provided a safe place for kids and teens to learn and grow. Clubs offer caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Boys & Girls Clubs programming promotes academic success, good character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles. More than 4,900 Clubs serve over 4.3 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide.”
Kane Brown was recently honored as one of the CMT Artists of the Year. His latest album, Different Man, is out now.