She’s fighting a rare, life-threatening autoimmune disease. And she inspired a team to the Stanley Cup while uplifting a city and people around the nation. That’s extraordinary character if we’ve ever seen it. And so, it’s only fitting that 11-year-old Laila Anderson is the recipient of this year’s Musial Award for Extraordinary Character. She will be honored at the Musial Awards in St. Louis on Saturday, Nov. 23. The show will also be seen nationally as a one-hour special on CBS on Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. EST.
The Musial Awards – presented by Maryville University – celebrate the year’s greatest moments of sportsmanship and those in sports who embody class and character. The national event and its awards are named for St. Louis Cardinals legend Stan Musial, a beloved baseball superstar and civic icon who personified sportsmanship.
The Musial Award for Extraordinary Character is one of two special honors bestowed at the event. It recognizes an individual who demonstrates remarkable poise, perseverance and overall sportsmanship.
In September 2018, Anderson was diagnosed with HLH (hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis), a condition in which immune cells grow out of control and attack the body, causing organ damage. In Anderson’s case, the immune system was attacking her brain. She went through 10 weeks of chemotherapy to prepare her for a bone marrow transplant, which occurred in January.
Throughout the journey, she had the Blues organization behind her, particularly players Colton Parayko and Alexander Steen, with whom she developed friendships. Anderson had grown up a Blues fan, and the visits and encouragement from the team helped her through the most difficult of days. She in turn provided an inspirational boost to the organization. As Anderson’s outlook improved, so did the trajectory of the Blues’ season, going from the worst record in the NHL on Jan. 3 to Stanley Cup champions on June 12.
It was in the playoffs that Anderson captured the hearts of St. Louis. Her doctors had cleared her to attend the conference finals, and the video of her mom surprising her with the news went viral. She rallied “her boys” to victory in that series and was in Boston to raise the Cup. She rode in the Stanley Cup parade and was presented a championship ring. She happily accommodated interview and autograph requests, and she is using her platform to raise awareness for Be The Match, a bone marrow donor registry. Throughout the good days and bad, she maintained an incredibly positive attitude, showing amazing courage, poise and exuberance. She embodied character and what it means to be a good sport.
At the Musial Awards, Anderson will be recognized alongside individuals from around the country who are connected to inspiring displays of sportsmanship that represent the best in sports and humanity. For a full lineup of honorees, visit musialawards.com.
MUSIAL AWARD TICKETS
Tickets for the 2019 Musial Awards, ranging from $10 to $35, are on sale through Ticketmaster. More information can be found at MusialAwards.com/tickets. Groups of 10 or more can take advantage of special group pricing by calling 314-345-5121. Showtime for the 2019 Musial Awards is 6:15 p.m. CST.
THE MUSIAL AWARDS ON CBS
The 2019 Musial Awards will be seen throughout the country on CBS. The network will air the Musial Awards as a one-hour special on Saturday, Dec. 21 at 2 p.m. EST. Additionally, the telecast will run twice on cable’s CBS Sports Network. The Musial Awards broadcast is being produced by Al Roker Entertainment, the production arm of iconic NBC TODAY Show anchor and weatherman Al Roker.
THE ST. LOUIS SPORTS COMMISSION
The St. Louis Sports Commission is the privately-funded nonprofit organization that grows, strengthens and moves St. Louis forward through sports. The organization uses the power of sports to enhance the area’s quality of life and generate economic and social benefit for the St. Louis region.