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LeBron James, Breanna Stewart among SI's 2020 Sportspersons of the Year

LeBron James and Breanna Stewart are among five activist athletes honored by SI for being 'champions on the field, champions for others off it.'

LeBron James used his platform during the 2020 elections to inspire young people to hit the ballots.

Sports Illustrated’s annual Sportsperson of the Year honor was awarded to five athletes for 2020, including basketball stars LeBron James and Breanna Stewart.

James and Stewart join Patrick Mahomes, Naomi Osaka and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif as this year’s honorees. It’s the third time James has been honored, having previously been selected in 2012 and 2016.

In saluting the five “activist athletes,” SI praised the “five men and women who in 2020 were champions in every sense of the word: champions on the field, champions for others off it.”

Speaking of James, the editors took special note of James’ tireless work “to end voter suppression and ensure that in 2020 everyone—especially Black people—had equal access to the polls.”

James, 35, long ago found his social and political voice. There is debate over whether he’s the greatest NBA player ever. But with his efforts for racial justice, education reform and Black community empowerment as well as his voting rights campaign and varied charitable work, there is no doubt that he sets the standard for the modern socially conscious athlete. It is for his career-long dedication to service that we also honor him with this year’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. “He continues to embody Muhammad’s principles and core beliefs, using his celebrity platform to champion social justice and political causes that uplift all people,” says Lonnie Ali, the Greatest’s widow. “LeBron has actively used Muhammad’s example to guide, inform and inspire him along this path.”

As for Stewart, the 2018 WNBA MVP bounced back from a devastating Achilles injury to lead the Seattle Storm to their 4th WNBA championship, taking home WNBA Finals MVP honors for the second time in her career. More importantly, as SI noted, “When the moment came for Stewart to take a stand, the WNBA superstar didn’t hesitate. Her support of Black Lives Matter never wavered, from the season’s opening tip to the Storm’s title celebration.”