Montclair State’s Maurice Torres Named Recipient of Courageous Athlete Award by NCAS

Basketball Junior to Be Honored by National Consortium for Academic and Sports on January 28

Montclair, NJ (1/22/08) – Junior Maurice Torres (Summit, NJ / Summit) has been an exemplary player on the court for the Montclair State University men’s basketball program the past three seasons.

However it is off the court where the 20-year-old Torres has made his biggest impact, and his story of personal courage will be acknowledged with the NCAS Giant Steps Courageous Athlete Award for 2007 at the National Consortium for Academics and Sports' Annual Conference (NCAS) on Tuesday, January 28 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Florida.

Also honored in various categories are Women’s World Cup Soccer champion Julie Foudy; legendary women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt of the University of Texas; Boston University standouts Brittany and A.J. Detwiler; former Army football player Johnnie Williams; The Miracle League; and the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball Team. Other past award recipients include basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former Senator Bill Bradley, and Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

“Maurice is a young man of great character. He is always willing to give of himself to benefit others,” said Tara Rienecker, Coordinator of Student Development for Athletes. “This quality has transcended in his home life, to the basketball court, with his fellow student-athletes, and in the community. I am extremely excited he has been chosen to receive this prestigious award.”

Torres’ story is one of great inspiration. As four-year-old child, Torres and his mother were homeless and slept in alleyways on cold nights, while his sisters stayed with relatives. His early years exposed him to witness drug use, violence, and prostitution.

Eventually moved to the foster care system, Torres kept in his mind his mother’s desire to “keep the family together,” a responsibility that made a strong impression on the five-year-old. Over the next few weeks, they were moved from home to home until they found a loving family who could provide for them. Despite having three biological children of their own, the family provided a stable home for the Torres children for two years.

After the two years, Torres’ younger sister was adopted, while the others were sent to an orphanage for a year until they were taken in by the Davis family. The Davis family already had four adopted children, but wanted three more. It was a perfect fit. After almost 10 years together, they were officially adopted in November of 2004.

Now in his third year at Montclair State University, Torres is the first person in his family to reach the college level and is proud to pave the way for the rest of his siblings. In his basketball career, he has appeared in 51 games for the Red Hawks and holds the single-season record for three-point field goals with 57 set in 2006. In his spare time away from basketball, Torres volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and tutors middle school children. He is currently the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

“Mo’s contributions to our team and program extend beyond basketball,” said Montclair State head coach Ted Fiore. “His leadership and work ethic never go unnoticed and those qualities serve as an inspiration to his teammates and our staff.”

During the 2006-07 academic year, Torres was featured as one of the 12 persons in the “Real Men of MSU” calendar was designed to educate the community by representing positive male role models who respect and support women and are willing to take a stand regarding violence against women. The program is sponsored by the Center for Non-Violence and Prevention Programs at Montclair State University.

“Maurice is a great young man. His accomplishments are impressive, especially in light of his difficult early years,” said Director of Athletics Holly Gera. “Maurice works hard, on and off the court, and we are extremely proud that he wears a Montclair State University uniform. It is our privilege to know him.”

The 2007 calendar year marked the twentieth anniversary of National Student-Athlete Day created by the NCAS. The special day was designed to honor student-athletes who had achieved excellence in academics and athletics, while also making significant contributions to their communities.

Student-athletes who are honored have achieved at least a 3.0 GPA are leaders on their teams and in their communities. In addition, national Giant Steps Awards are given in categories such as courageous student-athletes, civic leaders, coach, barrier breakers and more.

Since its inception, over 2,554,692 high school and college student-athletes have been recognized. In 2007 over 310,000 award certificates were given out. National student-athlete day has truly become “America’s Day” to celebrate the achievements of student-athletes and sports as a whole.

Released: January 25, 2008