Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award

Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award

The Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian 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 principals that Muhammad Ali embodied so well, including confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and respect.

Formally called the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award, it was renamed in 2017 to honor the legacy of Muhammad Ali's impact on society.

2020 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award Winner

Nelson Cruz, MLB's Minnesota Twins

Six-time MLB All-Star Nelson Cruz has completely transformed the safety and welfare of his hometown in the Dominican Republic, Las Matas De Santa Cruz. Thanks to Cruz, the town has a fire engine and an ambulance to treat and transport people to the hospital, which is nearly one hour away. He built a new police station to replace a plywood shack structure and donated a motorcycle for police officers, who previously had to walk. Annually, Cruz brings dentists and optometrists to his hometown's local clinic to provide checkups, medicine and eyewear. His health event with volunteer doctors and donated equipment and medicine enabled more than 1,200 people to be evaluated and treated. He has purchased wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and canes for elderly and disabled residents. Cruz's Boomstick23 Foundation also has laid the groundwork for a new education and technical center to help young people learn how to advance their employability by learning trades such as carpentry or electrical, and how to better use farmland to produce crops. Additionally, his Healing Venezuela initiative helps 2,000 Venezuelan newborns annually receive life-sustaining nourishment during their first year (a 400 percent increase since Cruz became involved).

2020 Finalists

  • Kevin Love, NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Devin and Jason McCourty, NFL's New England Patriots

  • Maya Moore, WNBA's Minnesota Lynx

  • Titus O'Neil, WWE Superstar

Past Winners

2019: Chris Long, Retired NFL Player

Chris Long was honored with the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award for his commitment to giving back through strategic, multifaceted efforts, which attack larger systematic issues. He donated his entire salary in 2017 to benefit educational equality and encouraged his fans to join him in the effort. The "Pledge 10 for Tomorrow" effort raised $1.75 million to support the three cities in which he spent his NFL career: St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia. Not content with just giving money, the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year has consistently matched his financial donations with boots on the ground efforts. His Waterboys initiative has helped more than 225,000 people in East Africa gain access to clean drinking water by building more than 61 water wells to date. Long's ability to inspire and help other athletes get involved with his causes has led to 26 NFL players from more than 20 different teams participating in Waterboys. The program also has recently expanded into the NBA with the creation of Hoops2o.

2019 Finalists

  • Reggie Bullock, NBA's Los Angeles Lakers

  • Yadier Molina, MLB's St. Louis Cardinals

  • Sloane Stephens, Tennis

2018: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors

Kevin Durant was recognized as an athlete whose continuous demonstrated leadership has created a positive impact on their community through sports. As Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors ascended to stardom in the NBA, he built a philanthropic portfolio as impressive as his play on the court. From starting the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation in 2012 to enrich the lives of at-risk youth, to donating $1 million to victims to of the Oklahoma tornados in 2013 when he played for Oklahoma City, to being a passionate advocate of eliminating youth homeless, his impact in the community is far reaching and sustaining.

2018 Finalists

  • Doug Baldwin, NFL's Seattle Seahawks

  • John Cena, WWE

  • J.J. Watt, NFL's Houston Texans

2017: Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

Undrafted but now at the forefront of the Calgary Flames as team captain, Mark Giordano never loses sight of what got him to the NHL, and consistently exhibits conviction, integrity and bravery in his long-history of giving back to the community. His 5 for 5 initiative provided the funding to build five homes with Habitat for Humanity in Ethiopia, India, Kenya, the Philippines and the Calgary area. In 2014, he and his wife Lauren launched Team Giordano, which has helped 1,900 students in four high-needs Calgary schools. The program not only provides resources, including computers, supplies and their own "Gio Journals" to track students' progress, but promotes physical fitness, academics, and the positive behaviors that lead to success in life. And the program is working-with one school reporting that 88% of students are reading at grade level thanks to the literacy resources provided courtesy of Team Giordano. Additionally, he stands behind other important community causes, including stamping out discrimination based on sexual orientation and support of mental health awareness.

2017 Finalists

  • Ernie Els, PGA TOUR

  • Larry Fitzgerald, NFL's Arizona Cardinals

  • Curtis Granderson, MLB's New York Mets

2016: Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers

Through the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Chris Paul works tirelessly to level the playing field in education, sports and community. In honor of his late grandfather, Paul established the Nathaniel Jones Scholarship Fund, which annually provides two full-ride scholarships to his alma mater Wake Forest. This past year, he and the Foundation opened three technology labs in communities across the country, including one at a newly refurbished Boys & Girls Club in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. The renovation is part of the $1 million commitment the Foundation has made to Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.

2016 Finalists

  • Brent Burns, NHL's San Jose Sharks

  • Tina Charles, WNBA's New York Liberty

  • Carlos Dunlap, NFL's Cincinnati Bengals

2015: Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever

Growing up with a hearing impairment, Catchings was no stranger to being bullied, but she used her disability as inspiration and fuel to do her best in the classroom and on the court. Today, she teaches young girls about embracing their differences, building their self-esteem and overcoming obstacles. Through her Catch the Stars Foundation, she promotes fitness, literacy and mentoring to youth in Indianapolis. Catchings has served on the U.S. Department of State's Council to Empower Women and Girls Through Sports and has supported countless programs in the community through her unwavering volunteer efforts and financial support.

2015 Finalists

  • Anquan Boldin, NFL's San Francisco 49ers

  • John Cena WWE

  • Henrik Lundqvist, NHL's New York Rangers