Robert Lanier, or Bob Lanier as he is known to many, grew up in Buffalo, New York where his father operated his own business and his mother was a school teacher.
In 1966, a young and unassuming six foot eleven inch Bob Lanier arrived as a freshman at St. Bonaventure University - Siena's mother school - probably unaware that the athletic experience and the Franciscan formation he was about to embrace would catapult him to a life of athletic acclaim and, at the same time, a reputation as a quiet and effective missionary on behalf of children in need.
At St. Bonaventure, first team All-American Bob Lanier led the Bonnie's to an undefeated regular season in his sophomore year and to the NCAA Final Four Championship series in 1970. Upon graduation, Bob, who was the first overall pick in the NBA draft, went on to play 14 seasons with the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks. Among his many professional basketball accomplishments are his selection as an
All-Rookie Team member; an eight time NBA All-Star; an NBA All-Star Most Valuable Player; his ranking as the 27th highest on the all-time NBA scoring list; and his induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
But Bob Lanier's basketball prowess is not the primary reason for the Siena recognition bestowed upon him today. We honor Bob today for his years of devotion to community service and to improving the lives of young people - a devotion no doubt spawned and developed by his parents and, we like to think, influenced a bit by his Franciscan education.
Today, as Chairman of the NBA Team-Up Program, Bob Lanier visits with students from all over the country, delivering interactive, motivational and educational speeches aimed at encouraging middle and high school students to volunteer in their communities. "NBA fans may best remember me for my 14 year playing career," he noted, "but I am most proud of my work as chairman of the NBA Team-Up program and other league initiatives. The opportunity to reach out to young people has been very rewarding. "
Bob Lanier also remains active in many other issues related to children and education. He is on the board of directors of the Milwaukee Council on Alcoholism, as well as the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee. He also has served as honorary chairperson of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund.
In recognition of these contributions the YMCA presented him with the Jackie Robinson Award for service to youth, good citizenship and leadership. In 1993, Bob Lanier was the recipient of the Schick Achievement Award, given to an NBA player in recognition of distinguished contributions off the court. In October 2000, Bob received the prestigious Year 2000 Horizon Award, an award jointly presented by the Congressional Award Foundation and the United States Congress.
Today, Siena College honors Bob Lanier, an inspiring example of community involvement with students, with the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.