2009 Trailblazer Award Recipient: Leslie L. Alexander

2009: The AAF-Houston presented the 2009 Trailblazer Award to businessman Leslie L. “Les” Alexander. Alexander, owner of the Houston Rockets since 1993, has devoted his efforts to making the Rockets champions on the basketball court and in the community. His dedication to winning gave Houston its first back-to-back professional sports championships. In 2008, Forbes named him the NBA’s best owner. Sports Illustrated also named Alexander as one of the five best league owners in 2008-09.

His vision to construct a downtown arena took shape in November 2000, as Harris County voters approved a referendum to build a new home for the Rockets. Toyota Center, Houston’s state-of-the-art, multi-purpose facility, opened in 2003.

Alexander and the Rockets organization have received numerous community service awards, including the Pro Team Community Award, given by the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame. The award exemplifies community service and acts as a catalyst for community pride and spirit. His organization was awarded the Leadership Houston “Leadership in Action” Award for outstanding community service to education and for outstanding community service to youth.

Alexander and the Rockets were also honored with the 2005 Texas Association of Partners in Education “Outstanding Business Partnership” award in the Houston ISD. The Clutch City Foundation was also inducted into the Houston ISD Partners Hall of Fame for understanding the value of education, as well as an active commitment to enhancing the educational experiences of HISD students.

A vegetarian and staunch animal-rights advocate, he founded the Evelyn Alexander Home for Animals Foundation to help provide a permanent home to abandoned and abused animals. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Humane Society of the United States, the Children's Assessment Foundation, Clutch City Foundation, and Memorial Hermann Children's Hospital.

Alexander owned the WNBA Houston Comets from 1997-2007. The Comets won the league's first 4 WNBA championships from 1997 to 2000 before he sold the team. He is a former stock trader from New Jersey, who started trading options and bonds for a Wall Street firm before he left to form his investment company, The Alexander Group, in 1980.

Alexander graduated from New York University with a B.S degree in economics in 1965 and later earned his law degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. He was a member of the California State Bar from 1978-2009. He developed and owns a vineyard on Long Island and launched Leslie Wine in 2008.