With all the depressing news dominating the airwaves lately, it’s heartening to see athletes in the headlines being recognized for their charitable work. It’s a nice reminder that not everything is awful.
The nominations for the Muhammed Ali Humanitarian Award have been released ahead of the fourth annual pre-Espy’s Sports Humanitarian Award Ceremony. The candidates have been chosen based on the positive impact they’ve had on their communities, both locally and nationally.
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s nominees.
The Seahawks receiver has spent years working to build a connection between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve, especially in areas where citizens may be particularly distrustful of police.
Baldwin is a graduate of Stanford University and the son of a police officer. He spends much of his free time meeting with law enforcement and the agencies that oversee them, discussing ways to minimize the use of deadly force by officers. He advocates for change on a local, regional, and national level, and has met with hundreds of officials and community members to work toward criminal justice reform.
JJ Watt is known as much for his philanthropy off the field as he is for anything that happens on it. That’s truly saying something when it comes to a player as talented as Watt.
Watt was lauded for his humanitarian efforts after Houston was rampaged by Hurricane Harvey last year. In just 19 days, the Texans’ defensive end raised a whopping $37 million in flood relief for the city. He even oversaw distribution of funds, making sure every dollar counted and nothing went to waste.
If Watt wins the Ali Humanitarian Award, he can put it on a shelf beside his recent Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Kevin Durant has his fingers in a number of philanthropic pies, making him a worthy candidate for a prestigious humanitarian award.
In 2012, KD founded the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation, which works to improve the lives of at-risk youth through educational, social, and athletic opportunity. He has donated over $400,000 to charities working to reduce youth homelessness.
Durant is particularly generous when it comes to returning to his Maryland roots. In his home county, he opened the Durant Center, which provides assistance and support to underserved kids who may be struggling to graduate from college.
The Kevin Durant Charity Foundation also runs a program that renovates basketball courts in low-income areas. As of the end of 2018, the program will have refurbished 20 courts around the world.
John Cena is an undeniable superstar both in and out of the WWE ring. Cena’s good guy image and likable personality make him especially popular with younger wrestling fans. That’s likely why Cena is the most requested Make-A-Wish celebrity of all time.
And he certainly doesn’t disappoint. Cena is the only celebrity to have passed the 300 wish mark, and he’s done it with gusto; as of 2018, Cena has met with over 550 sick children through the program.
His charitable contributions don’t end there. Cena is a prominent promoter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research, and is an ardent supporter of the military; in 2016, he was the recipient of the USO’s Legacy of Achievement Award.
Who would have your vote? Let us know in the comments!
Photo credits: USA Today, Seattle Times, People, CBS, New York Post