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Agassi leads banner class for Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame


The Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame finally got its man.

For more than a decade, the hall has tried to induct Las Vegas tennis legend Andre Agassi, only to be politely rebuffed. But Agassi, a 2011 inductee into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, finally relented, and he will lead one of the hall’s strongest classes in its 16-year history when the induction ceremonies take place May 31 at Orleans Arena.

Joining Agassi will be Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White, Las Vegas Events president Pat Christenson, Las Vegas Motor Speedway president and general manager Chris Powell, professional golfer Stephanie Louden and longtime local high school basketball coach Bill Bobier.

The official announcement will be made today at Las Vegas City Hall.

Tickets, priced at $250 for individuals and $1,800 for a table of eight, are now on sale through the hall’s website, sportshalloffame.net.

“When you look at the celebrity status of this class, it could take us from a regional hall of fame to a national awareness,” executive director Dale Eeles said. “Usually, your inductees are retired. But this year, you have Dana White, who’s still in the moment. You have Pat and Chris, who are still very active.”

Agassi, 42, turned pro at age 16. He would become a dominant force in tennis, winning 60 singles titles — eight in Grand Slams, including all four majors — and an Olympic gold medal in 1996, and was a member of three Davis Cup championship teams (1990, 1992 and 1995).

But he is going into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame as much for his philanthropy as for his accomplishments on the court.

His Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy has achieved nationwide recognition in the education community for its accomplishments as a charter school, and his Andre Agassi Foundation has raised more than $177 million since its inception in 1994.

His latest venture in education is the Canyon-Agassi Charter Schools Facilities Fund, which is charged with helping locate and build schools similar to the one that bears his name in Las Vegas.

In addition to Agassi Prep, he has helped build a Boys and Girls Club near the school and a shelter for abused and neglected children.

Eeles said Agassi’s inclusion fills a long void for the hall.

“He’s always been professional with us,” Eeles said of Agassi’s request to wait until the timing was right. “His schedule is always busy in June because of his school’s graduation and other things he’s involved with.

“But our hall of fame is not complete without our hometown hero. Now we are whole.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

 

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