In 2020, Sports Illustrated has chosen to recognize five athletes for their success on the field (and court) as well as their efforts to better the lives of others off of it.
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, U.S open winner Naomi Osaka and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of the Chiefs have been named as the recipients of this year’s Sportsperson of the Year award.
All champions of their respective sports, James, Stewart, Mahomes, Osaka and Duvernay-Tardif are being honored for their championship play and for using their athletic fame as a platform for social activism.
“Patrick Mahomes, the Super Bowl MVP who used his platform as the NFL’s transcendent star to push the league to recognize the Black Lives Matter movement and players’ rights to protest,” according to SI. “Naomi Osaka, the U.S. Open tennis champion who embraced her fame and found her voice in the fight against social injustice. Breanna Stewart, who returned from a devastating injury to lead her team to the WNBA title and who spoke loudly against racism and for women’s equality. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the Chiefs’ lineman who became a Super Bowl champion and then left the NFL to join the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. And James, who led the Lakers to the NBA title, won his fourth Finals MVP trophy and worked tirelessly to end voter suppression and ensure that in 2020 everyone—especially Black people—had equal access to the polls.”
James will also receive this year’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award for his social activism efforts in 2020.
“James’s commitment to social activism reflects the spirit of Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, which celebrates individuals whose dedication to the ideals of sportsmanship has spanned decades and whose career in athletics has directly or indirectly impacted the world,” according to SI.
The publication is also going to be hosting an awards show for the first time.