ESPN Announces the Finalists for the 2020 Sports Humanitarian Awards
The sixth annual Sports Humanitarian Awards, sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb, is a celebration of the impact made by athletes, teams and sports industry professionals who are using sports to make a difference in their communities and throughout the world. This year, the Sports Humanitarian Awards will combine with The 2020 ESPYS Presented by Capitol One for an inspirational evening that showcases the true power of sports. The show will air on June 21 on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET.
The Sports Humanitarian Awards will feature its honorees as part of The 2020 ESPYS including the recipients of the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award presented by Dove Men+Care, the Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award presented by Anthem Foundation, the League Humanitarian Leadership Award and the Sports Humanitarian Team Award. The Sports Humanitarian Awards will present five additional honors in ESPN studio shows the week leading up to the ESPYS.
“ESPN recognizes that this year more than ever, athletes, teams and leagues have been leading the way in responding to the needs of communities across the country and the world,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “For six years, ESPN has been honored to telecast the Sports Humanitarian Awards, which highlights the impact that sports has to create social change, and we’re excited to carry that narrative through the ESPYS and our other platforms.”
This year’s nominees include (see below for descriptions on each award and finalist):
- Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award presented by Dove Men+Care finalists: Nelson Cruz (MLB’s Minnesota Twins), Kevin Love (NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers), Devin and Jason McCourty (NFL’s New England Patriots), Maya Moore (WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx) and Titus O’Neil (WWE Superstar)
- Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year finalists: Denver Broncos (NFL), Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB), New York City FC (MLS) and Sacramento Kings (NBA)
- Corporate Community Impact Award finalists: Anthem Foundation, Burton Snowboards, Nike and the Peach Bowl
The Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award recipients will be announced the week of June 15, as will the recipient of a new honor, the Sports Philanthropist of the Year Award, which celebrates someone that is creating measurable social change through sports by using a comprehensive philanthropic funding strategy.
The Awards will once again benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation for Cancer Research. Additionally, ESPN will donate more than $1 million in charitable contributions on behalf of the award nominees and honorees. To date, $9.8 million has been donated to the community on behalf of the Sports Humanitarian Awards.
Multiple sports leagues and/or governing bodies including MLB, MLS, NBA, WNBA, NFL, NHL, UFC, USTA and WWE are sponsors of the Sports Humanitarian Awards and have nominated athletes, teams and corporations who are transforming lives and uplifting communities.
The finalists and winners have been determined by an independent selection committee, which includes: Nick Keller, Founder and President of Beyond Sport; Donald Lassere, CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center; Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Olympic Gold Medalist, CEO and Sports Strategist; Sab Singh, Founder of Sports Doing Good and Professor of Sport Management at Farmingdale State College; Caryl Stern, Executive Director of the Walton Family Foundation; and Eli Wolff, Director of the Power of Sport Lab.
Below are the award descriptions, as well as details about the nominees and honorees for the 2020 Sports Humanitarian Awards.
MUHAMMAD ALI SPORTS HUMANITARIAN AWARD presented by Dove Men+Care
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 principles that Muhammad Ali embodied so well, including confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and respect. The winner will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts. The finalists will be able to direct a $25,000 grant to the charity related to their award-winning efforts.
All nominees will be featured in ESPN studio shows the week of June 15. The winner will be announced during The 2020 ESPYS on June 21.
Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins
Six-time MLB All-Star Nelson Cruz has completely transformed the safety and welfare of his hometown (Las Matas De Santa Cruz) in the Dominican Republic. 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 the plywood shack structure and donated a motorcycle for the 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% increase since Cruz became involved).
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers
After publicly sharing his own battle with anxiety and depression, Kevin Love has committed to normalizing the conversation around mental health. As soon as Love bravely used his voice, he inspired others to follow suit, sharing their own struggles as well. Teammates and fans responded with words of support and encouragement. He regularly engages with children who suffer from depression and anxiety and find encouragement in his story. Through the Kevin Love Fund (KLF), he’s developing an education curriculum designed to destigmatize challenges with mental health and to model the presence of emotion as an important dimension of the human experience, with a goal of reaching millions of students. The KLF also is endowing a Research Chair at UCLA that will empower eminent UCLA psychologists working to revolutionize treatments for anxiety and depression and give hope to millions of sufferers around the world.
Devin and Jason McCourty, New England Patriots
The McCourty twins feel strongly that too many kids with great potential get stuck with juvenile records at a very young age. In many cases, this marks the children for failure later on in life. Devin has been a passionate advocate for criminal justice reform at the Massachusetts State House. Thanks to his leadership, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill to increase the age at which children can be charged in juvenile court from 7-years old to 12-years old. When his brother Jason joined the Patriots, together they urged lawmakers to raise the age of adult court jurisdiction from 18 to 19, a move that the bill established a task force to study. They also are working together to address disparities in educational funding. Thanks to their leadership, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill that will invest $1.5 billion in the Massachusetts public education system over the next seven years, focusing primarily on underfunded schools with low-income students.
Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx
One of the most decorated basketball players in the history of the game, Maya Moore was the reigning WNBA All-Star Game MVP and four-time WNBA champion when she stepped away from the game in her prime to pursue finding justice for Jonathan Irons, who as a minor in 1993 had been sentenced to 50 years in prison for burglary and assault. Her story is one of selfless dedication, faith and pursuit of truth. She made the decision to use her platform to raise awareness for Iron’s case and the need to entirely re-imagine what “winning” means in our criminal justice system. She gave a voice to the voiceless by speaking at schools and the Congressional Black Caucus, joining The Marshall Project’s panel What’s The Story, and launching a nationwide petition through Change.org and her initiative, Win With Justice, that gained over 125,000 signatures. Moore’s goal was to gain freedom for Irons, and while Iron’s continues to persevere through a multi-layered appeals process, she recently achieved a huge milestone in that journey: his conviction was recently overturned by a Jefferson City judge, who claimed the initial convictions to be weak, circumstantial and marked with inconsistencies.
Titus O’Neil, WWE Superstar
WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil is an accomplished athlete, global entertainer and philanthropist. He grew up in poverty, labeled a “bad kid” who would be dead or in jail by the time he was 16. People invested in him when they had nothing to gain in return. As a result, he graduated from the University of Florida with academic and athletic accolades. O’Neil has made it his mission to create change for those in need. He supports thousands of individuals through various nonprofits including Susan G. Komen, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Special Olympics. Through his Bullard Family Foundation, in partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools, he’s transforming Sligh Middle Magnet School and the surrounding area in Tampa, Fla. into an innovative education and community hub to create lasting generational change. This includes a first-class gym for school staff, a multi-million-dollar track and turf field for community health and wellness and a prosperity center offering support services to lift families out of poverty.
SPORTS HUMANITARIAN TEAM OF THE YEAR AWARD
The Sports Humanitarian Team Award represents a sports club/team that demonstrates how teamwork can create a measurable impact on a community or cause. The winner will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts. The finalists will be able to direct a $25,000 grant to the charity related to their award-winning efforts.
All nominees will be featured in ESPN studio shows the week of June 15. The winner will be announced during The 2020 ESPYS on June 21.
Under the leadership of President & CEO Joe Ellis, the Denver Broncos are committed to a culture of service through innovative programming with players, coaches, staff and alumni. The Broncos are the only professional sports team to fully fund its own branch of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, giving more than 15,000 youth a home away from home since it opened in 2003. Seventy-seven percent of those club members earn mostly A’s and B’s in school with senior club members graduating from high school at a rate 20% higher than the local average. The Broncos also invest in Futures Football, a spring tackle program for middle school students within Denver and Aurora Public Schools. Fully funded by Denver Broncos Charities, this program provides high school coaching, updated equipment and on-going character development training. Denver Public Schools has seen more than a 25% increase in football participation since the program’s inception. Broncos players are the most visible part of the team’s charitable endeavors with 120 different team members participating in voluntary community events in 2019 alone. Since 2017, Broncos’ player service hours have increased by 79% to more than 1,750 hours across team and personal initiatives.
Los Angeles Dodgers
In Los Angeles, one out of every five people lives at or below the poverty line. The goal of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) is to be bigger than baseball, envisioning a city where every Angeleno, regardless of zip code, has the opportunity to thrive. Through direct programs and grants to nonprofits, LADF tackles the most pressing problems facing Los Angeles with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness, and social justice for all Angelenos. Through Dodgers RBI, LADF
has increased access to health care and educational resources to over 10,000 youth, with a specific emphasis on African American youth and girls. The program helped 97% of the players, ages 9 to 18, succeed in social-emotional learning development. Another key program, the “Dodgers Reading Champions” online reading challenge of LA Reads, has engaged 16,000 students across 1,075 schools, enabling young readers to read a total of 1.5 million minutes last year. Their Dodgers Dreamfields program has helped to build or refurbish 51 baseball and softball fields in underserved communities, providing 368,000 youth access to safe, playable fields in their own neighborhoods. In 2019, LADF unveiled its second universally accessible Dodgers Dreamfield helping over 3,000 youth with special needs to safely play on an adaptive field.
New York City Football Club
New York City Football Club (NYCFC) together with its foundation, City in the Community (CITC), delivers free health and STEM education programs in over 80 public schools and community-based organizations across New York City serving over 5,000 youth annually. Their Saturday Night Lights crime prevention program offers soccer during peak crime hours, while also providing academic support and college and career pathways. NYCFC also funds, trains and inspires young leaders through its Youth Leadership Council (YLC). Last year, YLC members created a summer program and supported the training and development of community coaches. In 2019, the Club opened nine mini-pitches, contributing to the total of 29 pitches that they’ve built to date as part of New York City Soccer Initiative (NYCSI). A third-party study found that CITC sees a $4.50 social return for every $1 invested in programs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, CITC adapted core programs to run virtually and helped donate over 143,000 meals to New York City communities in the South Bronx.
After Sacramento was devastated by the tragic shooting of an unarmed black man, Stephon Clark, by police in March 2018, Sacramento Kings owner, Vivek Ranadivé heard the cries for action and committed that the team would work alongside the community to prevent future tragedies. The team created a multi-year partnership with Build.Black., a coalition formed to transform Black communities with deep investment in Black youth. Over the last two years, Kings players and staff have participated in youth healing forums, STEM education and mentoring workshops, and a co-ed youth basketball league, all focused on using sport as an agent for change. The Kings also partnered with the Milwaukee Bucks to host Team Up for Change, a first-of-its-kind, daylong summit designed to address social justice issues. Together with Build.Black, the team has held more than 40 events and hosted nearly 2,500 area youth associated with the coalition, transforming the lives of countless youth across the city. The Kings also visited Folsom State Prison to tip off a series of basketball games and thoughtful conversations between incarcerated persons, players and coaches aimed at breaking down stigmas associated with individuals, disproportionately people of color and the poor, who are impacted by the criminal justice system.
CORPORATE COMMUNITY IMPACT AWARD
The Corporate Community Impact Award recognizes a corporation that utilizes their business platform and the power of sports to help advance a social issue, cause or community organization. The winner will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts. The finalists will be able to direct a $25,000 grant to the charity related to their award-winning efforts.
All nominees will be recognized during ESPN studio shows and the winner will be announced the week of June 15.
With one in three children overweight or obese in the United States, the Anthem Foundation created the Anthem Health Champion program in an effort to create greater public awareness and funding for the pressing health challenges faced by their customers and communities. The program, which focuses on enabling healthy and active lifestyles, pediatric cancer, empowerment of girls in sports, swim safety and improving self-esteem and fitness, is working with sports’ most admired healthy role models to spread messaging on the importance of staying active. Since its inception, they have helped 16 million kids combat childhood obesity through the holistic Triple Play program, put fitness centers in 66 elementary schools which ultimately has brought physical fitness to more than 35,000 children, provided 3,500 at-risk youth with water safety lessons and paired 100+ elite and collegiate athletes with girls of color between to inspire involvement in sports and in-person mentoring.
In the United States there is a vulnerable segment of youth who do not have access to outdoor opportunities, and consequently limits their ability to access experiences beyond their own challenging environments and step away from their daily norms. The Chill Foundation was founded by the owners of Burton Snowboards, Donna Carpenter, and the late Jake Burton Carpenter. Chill was created to provide access to boardsports for youth who would not otherwise have the opportunity, providing them year-round programming to snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing, and stand up paddleboarding lessons at no cost. The youth-development program also addresses the inequalities around access to boardsports, as well as the potential for personal growth and development, while focusing on the resiliency of the participants to help them transfer many of their new skills and ideas to different circumstances they may face. Through Chill, boardsports have become a vehicle for self-empowerment and overcoming obstacles for more than 25,000 young people since the program started, impacting 3,000 youth in 16 cities across North America this year.
Nike believes all kids are made to play. The reality, though, is that only one in five kids around the world gets the physical activity they need to become healthier, happier and more successful in and school and in life. The Nike Community Ambassador program tackles this issue by giving Nike store employees around the world the opportunity to share their love of sport with the next generation. Last year more than 5,400 store employees in 24 countries served as Nike Community Ambassadors, volunteering as coaches in their local communities to help get kids playing so they can reach their full potential.
Peach Bowl, Inc.
Only 4% of National Institutes of Health federal funding for cancer research each year benefits childhood cancer according to the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, making it nearly impossible to launch clinical trials that will create new cancer drugs and treatment options for kids. To address this need, Peach Bowl, Inc. announced a $20 million gift to the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to create the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund, named in honor of Anna Charles “AC” Hollis, daughter of a Peach Bowl, Inc. employee who died after a courageous five-month fight with the disease. The fund is dedicated to ensuring novel, high-priority cancer drugs, devices and treatment strategies can be tested in patients at an accelerated pace. In 2019, the Peach Bowl LegACy Fund announced the first five new clinical trials led by oncologists at the Aflac Cancer Center. Additionally, the annual Peach Bowl Touchdowns for Children’s has inspired college football fans to help tackle cancer by pledging donations for every touchdown scored by their favorite team during the season. Peach Bowl, Inc. matches every dollar raised by fans throughout the entire college football season, which culminated in a record $518,922 additional gift following the 2019 season.
At the 2019 Sports Humanitarian Awards, the following individuals, teams and organizations were recognized:
- Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award Winner: Chris Long (Retired NFL Player)
- League Humanitarian Leadership Award Winner: National Hockey League
- Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Winner: Chicago Fire Soccer Club
- Corporate Community Impact Award Winner: Under Armour
- Sports Sustainability Leadership Award Winner: adidas
- Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award Presented by Anthem Foundation Winners: Harrison Barnes, Matthew Diaz, Lisa Parks and Yasmine Sanchez
- Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Presented by UFC Honoree: Lina Khalifeh
- Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Presented by Bristol-Myers Squibb Honoree: Tyler Trent
About ESPN Corporate Citizenship
ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use power of sport to positively address society’s needs through strategic community investments, cause marketing programs, collaboration with sports organizations and employee volunteerism, while also utilizing its diverse media assets. For more information go to www.espn.com/citizenship.
About Bristol-Myers Squibb
Bristol Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb, visit us at BMS.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
Celgene and Juno Therapeutics are wholly owned subsidiaries of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. In certain countries outside the U.S., due to local laws, Celgene and Juno Therapeutics are referred to as, Celgene, a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company and Juno Therapeutics, a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.
Olivia Wilson at (904) 303-3538; [email protected]; @livcwilson