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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Medical Lake’s Phoenix Hanks receives national award from NFL great James Lofton

Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton was in Medical Lake on Friday to honor Phoenix Hanks. (Justin Reed / SR)
By Justin Reed The Spokesman-Review

It isn’t everyday that an NFL Hall of Famer presents a national award to a local product, but that’s what happened when Medical Lake senior Phoenix Hanks was honored by James Lofton on Friday afternoon at Medical Lake High School.

Hanks was selected as one of 25 finalists for the U.S. Army-Pro Football Hall of Fame Award for Excellence. The award highlights the achievements made by student-athletes across the country and is open to all sophomore, junior and senior athletes. The overall winner will receive a $2,500 scholarship in August.

“Right now I am just really excited,” Hanks said. “I am humbled to be a part of all 25 national finalists. I have been looking through their portfolios and I am just like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I am a part of these guys.’ ”

According to the press release, Hanks is “ … among an elite group of 25 finalists who have demonstrated excellence in all they do and an understanding of the importance of adaptability and versatility when working as a team.”

During and after the award ceremony, Hanks used his time to praise the people around him.

“I’d like to thank my family, all my mentors, coaches, teachers, the staff at Medical Lake and all the students and teammates,” Hanks said after the ceremony. “All their guidance and support has really helped me through this and made it possible.”

Both of Hanks’ parents were active in the military, so it was no surprise he found one of his many passions to be junior ROTC. His team was even presented with a Congressional Commendation from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers for its work in community service projects.

Hanks wants to join the Navy after he receives his bachelor’s in pre-med from Eastern Washington.

After that, his country will become the focus of his attention.

“I’m going to be serving the nation in the Navy,” he said. “In the Navy, I will continue my medical experience and try to become a doctor.”

“You can’t help but be kind of attracted to him, he’s such a great kid,” Lofton said.

“You look at all the things that he’s done on the field, in the classroom, in the community. You are just so proud of him.”

Lofton was drafted in the first round by the Green Bay Packers in 1978. He played for 16 seasons, amassing the most receiving yardage in NFL history at the time of his retirement after the 1993 season.