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Cavaliers forward-center Kevin Love has been named a finalist for the ESPN Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award.
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):
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
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.
To read more about the Sports Humanitarian Awards, visit ESPN.com.