DALLAS -- Former Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown received a prestigious award from The Maguire Ethics Center at SMU on Tuesday. In the process, he thanked the award’s namesake for making the “circle of life” moment possible in the first place.

Brown received the J. Erik Jonsson Ethics Award for his 33 years of service to the Dallas Police Department and for helping guide the city after one of its darkest days. An ambush on July 7, 2016 claimed the lives of five Dallas law enforcement officers.

The award is named in honor of J. Erik Jonsson, former Dallas mayor and former president of Texas Instruments. He helped guide the city through what was then its darkest day – the November 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy. And, as Brown pointed out in his acceptance speech Tuesday at the Belo Mansion, Jonsson gets much of the credit for putting the former chief on his path to success.

Jonsson was one of the first in the city to hire a large number of African-American Dallas residents. One of those he hired was David O. Brown’s mother. Her job at T.I. was a second job she worked to help put her young son through school.

"Isn't it funny that you get an award from a man who opened up the opportunity for your mother who he hired who then impacts your education, that impacts your life, then impacts your family's life, then impacts a city's life, that a country sees on a tragedy. And then you are all here applauding me when I am receiving this award because of this mayor,” he told a crowd of dignitaries including former first lady Laura Bush.

"And you're able to say what my mother did, sacrificed for me, paid off,” he told WFAA. “And what Mr.Jonsson did for this city paid off. And it paid off for me personally. And probably for a lot of other people."

"But the way the city responded, the way the department responded and the relationships we have with our community is more of the recipients for this award than just an individual," Brown said.

He holds an award named after the mayor who he says made his individual career success possible.

Brown, who now spends much of his time in New York City, is a contributor on law enforcement issues to ABC News.