BOISE, Idaho -- Harmon Killebrew is best known for hitting
home runs, Steve Largent for his pass-catching prowess on the
football field and Steve Smith for his ability to score baskets in
But the former professional athletes were celebrated for
accomplishments in another arena Thursday, when they were inducted
into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame. The non-profit,
with offices on the Boise State University campus, marked their
efforts in community involvement and raising money for charitable
"I really didn't come because I was getting an award," said
Largent, 52, who played 14 years with the Seattle Seahawks and
played college football at Tulsa. "I came to send a message to
athletes of every stripe that it's important to give back. When I
look back on my career now, that's the aspect of my career that I'm
probably most proud of."
The 70-year-old Killebrew, a native of Payette, Idaho, hit 573
home runs in his Major League Baseball career. He played for the
Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals between
1954 and 1975.
"It's a good feeling to be able to help other people,"
Killebrew said. "I think more and more you'll see players doing
that. I think the players today who are making so much money are
able to do those things more readily than the older players, like
when I played."
A member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Killebrew was
honored for his help raising money for leukemia research and for
founding the Harmon Killebrew Foundation, which raises money for
research into pain relief and care management for the terminally
"It's a great thing to give," he said. "A lot of people have
helped me help others."
Each of the inductees has received numerous awards but all said
Thursday's honor was among the most meaningful.
"This ranks No. 1 because it recognizes you as a person," said
Smith, who won an Olympic gold medal in 2000 and helped the San
Antonio Spurs win the 2003 NBA title. "This one is basically what
you've done off the court, and for a lot of us what you've done
after you've left the game."
Largent, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, played with
the Seahawks from 1976 to 1989 and earned seven trips to the Pro
Bowl. He led the NFL in pass-receiving yardage in 1979 and 1985,
and caught passes in 177 straight games.
He was selected for the humanitarian award for his more than
three decades of charity work, which includes raising money for the
Children's Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle, Wheelchairs for
the World Foundation and Habitat for Humanity. Largent also served
three terms as a Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stepping
down in 2001 to mount an unsuccessful campaign for governor.
"It really doesn't take that much effort for an athlete to
express that kind of gratitude to the community that supports him
in his athletic endeavors," Largent said. "I do it because that's
who I am and that's what I believe."
Smith, 37, was an NBA All-Star in 1998 and is Michigan State
University's all-time leading scorer with 2,263 points.
He was recognized for his $2.5 million contribution to Michigan
State, which was used to build a student-athlete academic center.
The Detroit native also gave $600,000 to endow an MSU scholarship
for top students at Detroit's Pershing High School, which Smith
"For me to get a chance to go in with Harmon Killebrew and
Steve Largent, to see these guys further what they're doing, even
go to another level after they left the game, inspires me," Smith
Since 1994, the hall has honored three people annually for their
humanitarianism. Previous inductees include pro baseball players
Jackie Robinson and Kirby Puckett, tennis players Arthur Ashe and
Andrea Jaeger, Olympian gymnast Mary Lou Retton, Olympic
speedskater Bonnie Blair, and NBA players Julius Erving and David