Hollywood, Calif. -- Stars of the past, present and future lit up the Loews Hollywood Hotel on Tuesday night, as Cicero-North Syracuse (Syracuse, N.Y.) basketball star Breanna Stewart and record-breaking Aledo (Aledo, Texas) running back Johnathan Gray were named the Gatorade Athletes of the Year.
Stewart, Gray and their fellow nominees – all of whom were named the Gatorade Player of the Year in their respective sports – represented the future on a night that featured presentations by current and former stars Robert Griffin III, Alonzo Mourning, Lisa Leslie and Brandi Chastain among others.
“This is my first time being here other than to change planes, so just being able to experience L.A. and win this award, it’s been really great,” said Stewart, who won two state titles at Cicero-North Syracuse and will continue her career at Connecticut.
Mourning, Landon Donovan and Griffin III, who sported Santa socks because he "was in the giving spirit," presented Gray with the Male Athlete of the Year award.
“I want to thank my family, friends and teammates,” said the three-time state champion, who will play at Texas. “Without them, I’d be lost. “
Gray, who set the national high school career record for touchdowns at Aledo with 205, chose Texas over a long list of interested schools, including Texas Tech, where his dad was a star.
Like Gray, Stewart had her choice of schools during the recruiting process, but settled on Connecticut because it was where she felt most comfortable.
“Obviously a lot of top recruits will go to Connecticut because it’s a prestigious program,” Stewart said. “When thinking back about what schools really stuck out, Connecticut was always at the top. Coach Auriemma and his staff will always get the best out of you. That’s what I hope and expect them to do for me, make me the best player I can be and reach my full potential.”
Gray says he has to improve “every aspect” of his game to reach his full potential in Austin. But first, he intends to savor his award and take advantage of his time in L.A.
“I think we’re going to go eat at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles tomorrow,” Gray said. “I gotta shy away from that and start to eat healthy, but I’m still living the high school life right now. I’ll shy away from it soon.”