The Hosts of the 2018 Minnesota Sports Awards.
About Ahmad Rashad
Football legend and NBA anchor, Ahmad Rashad brings passion and charisma to the forefront. Rashad, a former college All-American and All-Pro football star who was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007, was host, executive producer and managing editor of the Emmy-nominated show NBA Inside Stuff for 16 seasons.
During a brilliant 10-year career in the NFL, he was recognized as one of the most electrifying players during his era while playing for the Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, and Minnesota Vikings. As a member of the Vikings, he earned four Pro Bowl selections, capturing Pro Bowl MVP honors in 1979. Selected to both the Vikings All-Time 25th Anniversary Team and their 40th Anniversary Team, he finished his playing career ranked 11th on the NFL's all-time receiving list with 495 receptions, and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in Minnesota Vikings history.
Prior to his current duties, Rashad worked with NBC Sports. In 20 years with NBC, he was one of the network's most visible and versatile sportscasters. He joined the network as an NFL commentator and host for NBC’s Sports World in 1983. He soon extended his duties to include studio hosting, feature reporting, analysis and commentary for a variety of sports and events. Including in 2001 and 2002 serving as the studio host for the NBA on NBC’s pregame and halftime shows.
Rashad has also worked tirelessly on behalf of causes to benefit the community, devoting his time and energy to many charitable endeavors. An alumnus of the Boys and Girls Clubs, he has played a leading role in efforts to assist the organization, including the Ahmad Rashad Passport to Manhood Program, which helps youngsters deal with the challenges of their adolescent years. He also created the Ahmad Rashad Celebrity Classic, an annual golf tournament raising money to benefit White Plains Hospital Center, which provides essential health care services to thousands of families in Westchester County.
His extensive charitable activities have also included numerous USO visits to troops all over the world, along with efforts on behalf of the Mental Health Association, the Alzheimer’s Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Robin Hood, the Brain Tumor Society, Have a Chance, NBA Cares, chairing the Special Olympics and the Frito Lay Challenge for Children.
Rashad was recognized for his efforts with the Minnesota Vikings NFL Man of the Year Award, and has been the recipient of numerous other prestigious honors, including the Whitney Young Award, the Eddie Robinson Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the Award of Courage, bestowed by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In 2009, Rashad was named the Man of the Year by the New York Athletic Club. He donated his $10,000 prize for winning the award to White Plains Hospital Center.
About Anthony LaPanta
Anthony LaPanta, play-by-play voice for the Minnesota Wild and host for Twins Live, has been with FOX Sports North on a full-time basis since 2004. With over 25 years of broadcast experience in the Twin Cities, LaPanta has covered almost every sport at nearly every level. He has individually earned five regional Emmy Awards for his play-by-play and studio host work.
LaPanta has been the voice behind many memorable sports moments on FOX Sports North, including the Minnesota’s Wild’s dramatic win in game seven of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against Colorado. He is also part of the team that helped develop and grow the network’s popular “Hockey Day Minnesota” television event, and has been instrumental in the development of the pre and post-game shows that come before and after every live event on FOX Sports North.
A Minnesota native, LaPanta attended Totino Grace High School and St John’s University. He is has been very active as a coach, including eight years at the youth level and the last ten coaching football at Totino Grace. He loves to cook, and spends much of his free time in the kitchen. He and his wife Margo have four children, A.J. (22), Vinny (21), Gianni (18), and Arianna (15).
FOX Sports North reaches more than 2.5 million homes throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota and the networks telecast thousands of hours of locally produced programming per year. The regional sports networks provide comprehensive coverage of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, MLB’s Minnesota Twins, NHL’s Minnesota Wild, WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx as well as University of Minnesota, NCHC and WCHA college hockey events.
About Lea B. Olson
As a parent, sports broadcaster and former collegiate athlete, Lea B. Olsen has experienced sports culture from every angle.
Since playing basketball for the University of Minnesota where she studied journalism and mass communication, Lea has worked for NBCSN, ESPN’s national WNBA coverage, on Fox Sports North as a game analyst for the Minnesota Lynx, and as a sideline reporter for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Along with numerous boys and girls state high school tournaments on KSTC45.
Founder of Rethink the Win, Lea now champions young athletes as complete people and the positive impacts of sports beyond the game.
Lea has been a public advocate for promoting women in the media, served on the Minnesota Twins Community Foundation Board and served at the invitation of Gov. Mark Dayton on the Minnesota State High School League Board. She has also mentored African-American athletes at the University of Minnesota, moderated a civil rights discussion featuring U.S. Congressman John Lewis and interviewed Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Lea lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two teenaged children.