Braves announce 'Tribute for Heroes' finalists

Braves announce 'Tribute for Heroes' finalists

Braves announce 'Tribute for Heroes' finalists

SAN DIEGO -- Three Braves fans are among the finalists in the "Tribute for Heroes" campaign that Major League Baseball and 'People' magazine have organized. Along with recognizing veterans and military service members, the initiative builds upon both the commitment of MLB and People Magazine to honor our country's heroes.

Fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com to view the full list of finalists and to vote on their favorite stories through June 30. One winner from each of MLB's 30 clubs will participate in All-Star Week and be recognized during the pregame ceremony leading up to the July 16 All-Star Game at Citi Field.

A "Tribute for Heroes" winner will be featured in the July 22 issue of People, which hits newsstands Friday, July 12th, the week of the All-Star Game.

The three veterans recognized as Braves finalists include Brian Hicks of Pike Road, Ala., Thomas Lewis of Alpharetta, Ga., and Anthony Smith of Blytheville, Ark.

Smith was pronounced dead and placed in a body bag after a rocket-propelled grenade tore through his hip and stomach and shrapnel took his arm. After a nurse realized he was alive, he remained in a coma for 62 days and then endured years of rehab and surgeries. The 46-year-old veteran now teaches Tae-Kwon Do and Mixed Martial Arts to at-risk kids in Arkansas.

Lewis shattered numerous bones when he crashed his F-16 fighter jet in the desert during a practice flight. He proved doctors wrong when he began walking and flying again. Along with being a pilot for Air Tran/Southwest, he currently devotes his time to coaching youth sports teams and working with Habitat for Humanity.

During a 2003 deployment in Iraq, Hicks suffered an injury that led to his left leg being amputated. He has since completed 35 triathlons and eight marathons. In 2012, he was awarded the USA Triathlon Comeback of the Year Award. Along with serving as a resident engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers at Maxwell Air Force Base, he mentors other disabled veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project and CAST (Christian Amputee Support Team).

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.