LAS VEGAS (ISN) – At a ceremony to be held at the Orleans Arena on Friday, June 8, Victoria native Simon Keith and four others will be inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame.
“This induction ceremony is another great moment in the rich sports history of Las Vegas,” said Hall of Fame Chairman Jeff Motley. “We are honoring individuals and groups who have not only succeeded on the athletic fields but also in their efforts to enrich the lives of everyone in Southern Nevada. This 2012 class has left an indelible mark on our community, and we are honored to have them join the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame.”
Keith holds the distinction of being the first athlete in the world to play a professional sport after undergoing a heart transplant. Now one of the longest living organ transplant recipients in the world and most notable professional athletes of his time, Keith travels cross-country captivating audiences with his “moments of truth” speeches and daring people to live. In 2011, he founded The Simon Keith Foundation, an organization dedicated to increasing organ donor awareness and educating transplant recipients.
Simon Keith addresses the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame at a recent event (Photo Courtesy of SNSHOF)
Born in Lewes, England in 1965, Simon Keith and his family moved to Victoria, British Columbia in 1967. He started playing soccer at a young age, eventually attending Mount Douglas Secondary School and excelling in his sport.
Keith received a scholarship to play soccer at the University of Victoria. In a lifechanging event in 1984, Keith was diagnosed with myocarditis, a deterioration of the heart
muscle. Two years later, at the age of 21, he was the recipient of a heart transplant. Ironically, Keith received the heart of a 17-year-old boy from Wales, who had died while playing soccer. The surgery was performed at Papworth Hospital outside of London by renowned surgeons Dr.Mohsin Hakim and Sir Terence English.
He then moved to Las Vegas in 1987 determined to return to the field of play. Keith amazingly returned to competitive soccer playing for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, under head coach Barry Barto. He also had a chance to play along side his older brother, Adam.
After playing two seasons with the Rebels, Keith garnered many honors including being named the Student-Athlete of Year for the Conference as well as voted as USA’s Most Courageous Athlete. After his senior season, Keith was named the Most Valuable Player at the Senior Bowl and was drafted first overall into the Major Indoor Soccer League, just three years after his heart transplant.
He has recently published his biography – Heart for the Game – detailing this most unique journey, including his return to Wales to stand on the field with his donor’s father, 25 years after the fateful day when the boy lost his life. Keith uses proceeds from both his book and speaking engagements to provide athletic training for other transplant recipients who choose to return to an active and healthy lifestyle.
The Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization committed to recognizing the outstanding achievements by Southern Nevada athletes, both in the world of sports and the local community.
Proceeds from the event will be donated to organizations committed to the support and enhancement of Southern Nevada youth through active participation in programs designed to promote leadership, values, and character through sports.
For additional information about the Foundation, please go to www.sportshalloffame.net.