The inaugural Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, presented by ESPN and PlayStation, will celebrate and honor athletes, teams, nonprofits and members of the sports industry for using sport to serve communities and make a positive impact on society, it was announced by John Skipper, President, ESPN. The event, which will take place Tuesday, July 14 at the Conga Room at L.A. Live, will be the first of its kind, bringing together the leagues and sporting community to pay tribute to the collective good of sports.
Multiple sports-related leagues and/or governing bodies — including MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, USOC, USTA, WNBA, WWE and the Women’s Sports Foundation — have nominated athletes, teams and community members that are using the power of sports to transform lives and uplift communities. Highlights of the evening will be featured during a 30-minute special on ESPN, July 23 at 8:30 p.m. ET.
During the event, which will be hosted by Laila Ali, winners will be announced from among the finalists for two major award categories — Sports Humanitarian of the Year and Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year. Additionally, the event will celebrate four inaugural “Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award” (ESPN + inspire) winners, recognized for taking risks and using innovation to help the disadvantaged.
“Through their selflessness and compassion, the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award honorees are improving lives of many around the world,” Skipper said. “The awards pay tribute to some incredible individuals and organizations and the extraordinary impact of their efforts on society.”
PlayStation is the presenting sponsor of the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, which will benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at The V Foundation — a fund that encourages cutting-edge research for minority populations suffering from cancer.
An independent panel of judges selected the finalists, including, Tracy Hoover, CEO of Points of Light, Sharon Roerty, Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sab Singh, Founder of Sports Doing Good and professor at Farmingdale State College, and Caryl Stern, CEO of the US Fund for UNICEF.
“Humanitarianism is a central narrative of sport — as athletes aspire towards greatness, their ability to make a mark on society is as important as their athletic accomplishments,” said Stern. “The Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards give rise to the increasingly important role that sports can play in society, and how the sports community can work together to build and inspire strong communities.”
SPORTS HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR
The Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award is given to an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a positive impact on their community through sports. The honoree will receive a $75,000 grant (and $25,000 grant for each of the three finalists) from ESPN’s Corporate Citizenship department to advance the impact of the charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts.
Finalists (winner to be announced at awards ceremony July 14):
- Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever (WNBA): 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.
- Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (NFL): Inspired by his own humble beginnings, Boldin is a passionate advocate for underprivileged youth and works to help them to overcome their limitations by expanding educational and life opportunities. Through his foundation, he provides a network of support with mentoring and after-school programs, scholarships, and annual summer enrichment programs — all of which are creating tangible impacts in the lives of children in Baltimore, South Florida and San Francisco. Becoming an Oxfam Ambassador on his own accord, Boldin also has testified before Congress to strengthen human rights protections for communities impacted by the oil and mining industries in Africa. In 2014, Boldin and his wife, Dionne, made a $1 million pledge to help youth in need by providing 4-year college scholarships to four deserving high school graduates annually.
- John Cena (WWE): WWE Superstar John Cena’s popular catchphrase “Never Give Up” is also a real-life mantra that he uses to inspire those battling life-threatening illnesses. For more than a decade, Cena has been a force in granting the wishes of children in partnership with Make-A-Wish. As the most requested wish granter of all-time, he has granted nearly 500 wishes for children around the world. Additionally, Cena is also a passionate advocate in the fight against breast cancer, helping to spread the word about the importance of early detection.
- Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers (NHL): As founder of the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation and an ambassador for the Garden of Dreams Foundation, Lundqvist has seized the opportunity to positively impact the lives of children most in need through education and health services. He’s touched the lives of thousands of children and families in New York City, the Dominican Republic and Sweden with both personal and financial support. He’s also providing a platform to the next generation of community leaders, by selecting a group of young adults to complete community service projects and volunteer work, as part of his Young Ambassadors Program.