Staff Photo: John Bohn Norcross running back Alvin Kamara talks with his mother, Adama Kamara, center, prior to the Atlanta Sports Council presenting the Atlanta Sports Awards Tuesday at the Fox Theatre. Kamara was named the High School Athlete of the Year. He will play football for Alabama.
ATLANTA -- Before he entered the Fox Theatre for Tuesday night's Atlanta Sports Awards, Alvin Kamara got the celebrity treatment.
The Norcross senior was greeted by a pack of autograph-seeking Alabama fans, who had memorabilia waiting for one of the Crimson Tide's star running back recruits.
"I walked up and they were grabbed me, 'Will you sign this?'" Kamara said. "I was signing balls and helmets. It was exciting. I signed No. 6 on there and they said, 'Are you wearing that number for sure?' I told them I wasn't sure."
In those circles and many others, top recruits like Kamara and Grayson's Robert Nkemdiche are the stars. On Tuesday night, those high schoolers got to share the spotlight with the biggest names in Georgia sports at the Atlanta Sports Council's annual awards gala.
Kamara and Nkemdiche were two of the three finalists for High School Athlete of the Year, an award that went to Kamara.
He accepted the award in front of a packed Egyptian Ballroom.
"It's pretty much an honor just to be mentioned with the best in Atlanta who are playing sports," Kamara said. "(Falcons quarterback) Matt Ryan's here. (Hawks guard) Lou Williams (one of the award presenters) is here. A lot of guys are here. I'm just blessed and honored to be a part of this."
Emcee Wes Durham, the voice of Falcons and Georgia Tech football, also called special attention and spotlight on Kamara earlier in the festivities.
"I've never seen you get tackled," Durham said. "In all seriousness, I've never seen you get tackled. I turned on the state finals and you're running for touchdowns. I see you on the highlights scoring touchdowns. When was the last time someone tackled you? About eighth grade?"
Kamara's evening was another part of a whirlwind school year for the Norcross football team, which was a finalist for Team of the Year along with the Falcons, who won the award, and the Georgia Bulldogs.
Blue Devils head coach Keith Maloof also was in the final three for Coach of the Year. His fellow nominees? Falcons coach Mike Smith and UGA coach Mark Richt.
Smith won the award, but just being nominated was enjoyable for Maloof.
"It's an honor for Alvin, myself and our football team to be up for these kind of awards," Maloof said. "With Mike Smith, Coach Richt, the Bulldogs, the Falcons, Nkemdiche, (Milton football player) Carl Lawson. It's an honor even to be mentioned with all these people.
"It's been an unbelievable ride. Tonight is just a great honor for myself, my coaches and our team."
It was a big night for the Falcons as quarterback Matt Ryan was the Professional Athlete of the Year winner. The other award-winners included Georgia's Jarvis Jones (Collegiate Athlete of the Year), Georgia State men's basketball coach Ron Hunter (Community Spirit Award) and High School Scholar Athletes of the Year Jacob Wieczorek of West Forsyth and Tori Weprinsky of North Springs.
But the night's biggest honor went to recently retired Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who received the event-ending Lifetime Achievement Award. The future Hall of Famer was also honored earlier in the day on Chipper Jones Day by the Georgia House of Representatives.
"It's been a fun day," Jones said. "Getting a chance to go talk to the House and the Senate was great. It's been a lot of fun. I'm very honored to have my own day and obviously the lifetime achievement award tonight here is a pretty big deal."