Los Angeles, CA — The Sports Humanitarian Awards celebrate and honor athletes, teams, leagues and sport industry professionals for using sports to make a positive impact on society. The Ball Out was live on the red carpet in Downtown, Los Angeles, for this year’s special event.
Now, in its fourth year, the evening recognizes influencers that are using sports to help benefit communities through several awards: Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Award, Corporate Community Impact Award, League Humanitarian Leadership Award, and the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Awards.
The biggest award of the night is the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award- it was previously called the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award, but was renamed in 2017 to honor the legacy of Muhammad Ali’s impact on society. This award is given to an athlete whose “continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a measured positive impact on their community through sports. The candidate must embrace the core principles that Muhammad Ali embodied so well, including confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and respect.”
Kevin Durant, of the Golden State Warriors, was the recipient of the Muhammad Ali award. Durant’s foundation helps at-risk and homeless youth by building basketball courts to help youngsters gain access to sports.
The U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey Team won Team of the Year, for speaking out against inequality. The team boycotted the world championships as it sought better pay and a contract that rivals the men’s national team. In February, the U.S. women took home gold at the Olympics, proving they are a force to be reckoned with.
“This award embodies everything we believe in, we’re big advocates of leaving the sport better than we got to it … we’re here for a bigger reason than just hockey,” said team member, Kendall Coyne.
The WWE was honored with the League Humanitarian Leadership Award for providing support on issues including diversity and inclusion, education, military and providing hope to critically ill children. WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon, who accepted the award on behalf of the WWE, explained why the company takes community efforts as seriously as the action in the ring.
The Corporate Community Impact Award was given to clothing retailer UNIQLO, which partnered with Street Soccer USA to dress players.
Retired NBA star and Spurs Hall of Famer, David Robinson, along with the U.S. Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program, received the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award. The award is given to those who have taken risks and used an innovative approach to help the disadvantaged through sports.
Robinson was honored for his work that focuses on helping to create equal access to education for all students in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. He founded Carver Academy, which started out as a school for 120 elementary students and has grown into a publicly funded charter school with more than 1,100 lower-income Hispanic and African American students.
The star-studded event showcased the positive impact sports stars have, rather than just their achievements on the field, court, ice or ring.
To top it off, ESPN grants $1 million to the charities of the nominees and winners. In addition, the proceeds of the event benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation, which encourages cutting-edge research for African Americans, Hispanics and other minority populations suffering from cancer.
In the past four years, more than $5 million has been donated to the community on behalf of the Sports Humanitarian Awards.