By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jan 18, 2023 at 1:01 PM

Cancer fighters and NBA fans alike will have something to celebrate when NBA Announcer Ernie Johnson, Jr. returns to his hometown to accept the Award of Excellence from the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation.

During the annual event, which will take place on the evening of March 3 at Fiserv Forum, 1111 Vel R. Phillips Ave., guests will have the opportunity to take a stand against cancer while experiencing the city’s newest arena in an unique way.

“Fiserv Forum offers the perfect stage to honor Ernie” said Emily Phillips, event committee co-chair and Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation board member. “Guests will enjoy dinner on the arena floor, cocktails in the Jockey Club and a VIP reception with Ernie in the BMO Club all for a good cause.”

Ernie Johnson Jr.
Ernie Johnson Jr.

Honoring Johnson

Raised in the Enderis Park neighborhood, Johnson made a name for himself as a sports personality and multi-sports Emmy award winner is well known for his role on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” and NBA TV’s “Fan Night,” along with his coverage of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship. 

Johnson – who will host a VIP reception and meet and greet during the event – will be honored for his efforts in raising awareness for cancer – and inspiring millions – by candidly sharing some of his most impactful and difficult life challenges, including losing his father; adopting four children, including one with special needs; and the experience of being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“It’s an honor to be selected for this award,” said Johnson. “Everyone goes through hard things, and I am glad my story can help others overcome their own challenges.”

Johnson will join an impressive slate of 31 previous honorees, including Bart Starr, Hank Aaron, Russell Wilson, John Wooden and 2022 award winner, NFL Broadcaster Erin Andrews. For more on past winners, visit the Award of Excellence Hall of Fame.

Purchase your tickets

Tickets to attend the Award of Excellence experience are available online. An individual ticket is $300, a table for 10 guests is $3,000 and a VIP ticket which includes a meet and greet with Johnson in the BMO club is $600. All tickets include dinner on the arena floor, a Q&A with Johnson, an open bar during the reception in the Jockey Club and complimentary parking.

All proceeds supporting the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation’s mission to fight cancer in honor of legendary NFL Coach Vince Lombardi who lost his life to colon cancer at age 57.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.