KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Cylk Cozart, a 1979 King College graduate and former basketball player, is the recipient of the 2019 Larry Smith Award, announced by Small College Basketball.
Cozart played for Hall of Fame Coach Al Nida for three years at King, after transferring from Anderson-Montreat prior to his sophomore year. Following his graduation from King in 1979, Cozart embarked on an acting career which led to appearances in over 40 films and 10 television shows, as well as becoming a supporter of numerous charities and humanitarian events around the world.
"Coach Al Nida, taught me how to listen & lead by example on and off the basketball court, so I could communicate effectively with people from different walks of life, which prepared me for the world of business, sports, entertainment and most importantly...family," Cozart said.
Cozart has combined his passion for service with his talent and passion for acting by helping young people understand history by asking them to take on the roles of historical figures in a drama-like setting. Cozart is a devout Christian and lives his faith in a career that doesn't readily welcome Christians.
"I'm thrilled to present the 2019 Larry Smith Award to Cylk Cozart," said Larry Smith. "As I learned about his philanthropic work, I have been thoroughly impressed. He's clearly made a big name for himself in the film industry, and it's been wonderful to learn that he has used his tremendous platform as a force for good in our society. The world needs more people like Cylk Cozart."
The Larry Smith Award is presented annually to a former Small College Basketball player who has used the game of basketball to learn and apply life lessons that have significantly enhance their life and then given back to impact the lives of others and change the world for good.
"Receiving the Larry Smith Award is not just a physical award," stated Cozart, "bit it's a spiritual awareness – and reminder – of how the game of basketball can give one choice in life that might not have ever existed. It is a tremendous honor for me, as it's so nice to be recognized for my philanthropic work. I've been blessed in my life, and I'm fortunate to be able to use my platform to make a positive difference for others."
Cozart was born and raised in Knoxville, Tenn. After a sensational high school career in basketball and football, Cozart attended Montreat – Anderson Junior College for his freshman year, before transferring to King College on a basketball scholarship. Cozart continued studying Child Psychology. Shortly after college, while trying to pursue a career in the NBA, Cozart suffered a foot injury in the NBA Summer League that ended his dream of playing professional basketball.
Cozart made his film debut in 1983 opposite Andy Garcia in the film Blue Skies Again. After relocating to New York, Cozart continued a successful modeling career, appearing in numerous publications including Vogue, GQ, and Essence. Cozart also had a love for theatre, which led him to be a part of two stage plays: "Diary of a Black Man" and "The Big Knife."
Most famously, Cozart has starred in the films: White Men Can't Jump, Blue Chips, Conspiracy Theory, 16 Blocks, Eraser, Three to Tango, and Eagle Eye. Cozart has also appeared in the following prominent television shows: Saved by the Bell, Walker, Texas Ranger, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Living Single. To go along with appearing in over 40 films and 10 television shows, he also produced a music album where he sings lead vocals and composed to original songs.
Cozart's reach goes far beyond the big screen. He is a spokesperson for the following organizations: National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Boys & Girls Club of America, The Lupus Foundation of America, The National Tourette Syndrome Association, the National Indian Council, and the National Make-A-Wish
Foundation. Cozart is also Director of Entertainment & Education for the "Keeping Dreams Alive Foundation," and is the CEO & Co-Founder of Cures4Hunger & Cures4water. They are the world's first legitimate and affordable cure for global hunger. The organization integrates seven technologies into one sustainable solution. One acre of Cures4Hunger Food and Water Domes feeds 58,000 starving people 365 days a year.
Cozart is the Director of Entertainment for the James Naismith International Foundation. He directed and produced "Wave to the World," an All-Star Celebrity video titled "Spirit of Life" for the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney Australia. The video won the prominent Videographer and Aurora Awards, the Telly Award, and the New York Film Festival Bronze Award.
Cozart received a Certificate of Appreciation from Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan for his multiple charitable causes in the Greater Los Angeles area. In 2012, Cozart received the prestigious Knoxville, Tennessee Urban League Lifetime Achievement Award. Cozart was also the recipient of the 2013-14 David P. Richardson National Nation Builder Award, from the National Black Caucus of State Legislatures. This award was created to recognize Americans who have shown a lifelong dedication to making a positive impact in their communities and throughout America. In 2018, Cozart received the CCI Diversity Award from the College of Communication and Information at the University of Tennessee.
Cozart was instrumental in the development of the NBA Entertainment League, in which he was a team captain for 10 years and a three-time three-point champion. He was also a captain for the Hollywood Knights. The Knights were a Touring Celebrity Basketball Team that raised funds for high schools across the country.
Cozart is the third recipient of the Larry Smith award. The inaugural award in 2017 was given to George Tinsley Sr. In 2018, Charlie Titus was selected as the Larry Smith Award recipient.