4th Annual Charlie Ward Tribute to Excellence
April 12 at 7
$250
Reliant Center
8400 Kirby Dr.
westburychristian.org/excellence 

The number 34 has special meaning to Houston sports fans because it represents three iconic figures in our city’s sports landscape: Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon, Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan, and Oilers running back Earl Campbell. Those three Hall of Famers, along with former Houston Oiler head coach Bum Phillips, make up the Mount Rushmore of Houston sports.

It’s no surprise, then, that Campbell will be honored in an annual ceremony by Westbury Christian School this Saturday night as part of the Charlie Ward Tribute to Excellence. Campbell is the fifth honoree in the series, which Ward, a Heisman Trophy winner and former coach of the Westbury football team, started in 2010. Previous honorees have included former NFL coach Tony Dungy, former NCAA football coach Bobby Bowden, former Rockets coach and general manager Carroll Dawson, and Texans GM Rick Smith.

The ceremony honors coaches and athletes considered for both talent and being a “good Christian influence,” according to Justin Lacey, the school’s director of communications. “Unfortunately, so often we see the headlines about athletes who aren’t.”

Houston Chronicle sports writer David Baron will interview Campbell in front of guests, and while there is no prescribed set of questions, he’s expected to cover the back’s entire career, from his Heisman Trophy win at the University of Texas to his Hall of Fame induction.

In a rather ironic bit of symmetry, the event will be held at Reliant Center, next door to the Astrodome, where Campbell and the Oilers thrilled fans during the team’s Luv Ya Blue era. Last year, a plan to renovate the Astrodome was shot down by voters, leaving the legendary sports facility’s future very much in jeopardy.

For Westbury, the event represents the opportunity to raise money for its own facilities. They currently have no home fields for baseball, football, or soccer, though Lacey would gladly accept an alternative. “If they want to donate the Astrodome to us…”

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