Second Annual Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards Presented by ESPN to Take Place July 12

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Second Annual Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards Presented by ESPN to Take Place July 12

  • Nominees Announced Alongside Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Honorees
  • Two New Award Categories Added
  • More than $1 Million Distributed to the Community as a Result of the Initiative
  • Laila Ali Returns as Host; Andra Day to Perform

The second annual Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, presented by ESPN, will celebrate and honor leagues, teams, individuals and members of the sporting community that are using the power of sport to make a positive impact on society. The sports industry-wide event will be held on Tuesday, July 12 at The Conga Room at L.A. Live, which returns as a sponsor of the event.

Laila Ali will return as host for the event, which will feature a performance by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Andra Day. Highlights of the evening will be showcased during a 30-minute program on ESPN, July 15, at 7 p.m. ET.

The net proceeds of the event will benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at The V Foundation. Lilly Oncology, along with other Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards sponsors, supports the V Foundations’ quest to end cancer. Additionally, ESPN will grant a collective total of nearly $800,000 to the charities of the nominees and winners, double the amount awarded last year. In total, more than $1 million will be distributed to the community as a result of the initiative.

During the event, winners will be announced from nominees of four award categories including Sports Humanitarian of the Year, Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year, and two new awards in 2016, the Corporate Community Impact Award and League Humanitarian Leadership Award. Additionally, three Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honorees will be recognized.

Multiple sports-related leagues and/or governing bodies – including MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, USOC, USTA, WNBA and WWE – have nominated athletes, teams and community members who are using the power of sports to transform lives and uplift communities.

Nominees for the four categories and the honorees for the Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award include:

  • Sports Humanitarian of the Year finalists: Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks), Tina Charles (New York Liberty), Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals) and Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers)
  • Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year finalists: Detroit Pistons, LA Galaxy, San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants
  • Corporate Community Impact finalists: Bank of America, BASF, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Kaiser Permanente and Mercedes-Benz USA
  • League Humanitarian Award: Winner to be announced at the dinner, July 12
  • Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honorees: Billie Jean King, Robert Kraft and the 2015 University of Missouri Football Team

The finalists and winners have been determined by an independent selection committee, which includes: Derreck Kayongo, CEO of the Center for Civil and Human Rights; Nancy Lublin, founder and CEO of Crisis Text Line; Sab Singh, founder of Sports Doing Good and professor at Farmingdale State College; Caryl Stern, CEO of the US Fund for UNICEF; and Eli Wolff, director of the Inclusive Sports Initiative at the Institute for Human Centered Design and co-director of the Royce Fellowship for Sport and Society at Brown University.

“We are honored to once again gather the sports world to recognize these charitable individuals and organizations,” said Kevin Martinez, ESPN vice president of Corporate Citizenship. “Thanks to the collective support from numerous sports leagues and our sponsors, the inaugural Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards was an enormous success with significant funds awarded to The V Foundation’s Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund as well as so many other impactful causes. We plan to build upon that, and make this year an even more powerful showcase of how the power of sport can ENSPIRE social change.”

Below are the award descriptions, nominees and honorees for the 2016 Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards.


The Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award recognizes an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a positive impact on their community through sports. 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.

Nominees (winner to be announced at awards ceremony July 12):

  • Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks: Influenced by his grandfather’s service during WWII, Brent Burns has worked tirelessly with United Heroes League, formerly known as Defending the Blue Line, an organization dedicated to ensuring military members are healthy and active through sports, since 2009. Dubbed “Burnzie’s Battalion,” Burns has donated more than $1.2 million in suite tickets to United Heroes League, regularly meets with veteran and active duty military members and has donated thousands of pieces of hockey equipment to military families. Burns also partners with Folds of Honor to provide scholarships to family members of injured and deceased military personnel.
  • Tina Charles, New York Liberty: Inspired by her late aunt, Tina Charles founded The Hopey’s Heart Foundation and has donated half her WNBA salary the past two seasons to help reduce the chance of student athletes succumbing to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Knowing that an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can increase someone’s chance of survival by 50%, Charles has placed more than 200 AEDs in schools, athletic teams and recreation centers worldwide. She’s also partnering with organizations like FIBA Europe and AAU Sports to change regulations so that every team has access to an AED.
  • Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals: Fueled by the passion of his parents, education has always been a priority for Carlos Dunlap. That’s why he created the Dunlap Scholars Program, which provides ACT and SAT prep and college readiness courses, mentoring and job interview training to underprivileged student athletes in Cincinnati. From throwing birthday parties for homeless kids who have never had one, to hosting a back to school “fun day” to get kids the important supplies they need, Dunlap is personally invested in ensuring youth feel nurtured and supported.
  • Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers: Through the Chris Paul Family Foundation, Chris Paul works tirelessly to level the playing field in education, sports and community. In honor of his late grandfather, Paul established the Nathaniel Jones Scholarship Fund, which annually provides two full-ride scholarships to his alma mater Wake Forest. This past year, he and the Foundation opened three technology labs in communities across the country, including one at a newly refurbished Boys & Girls Club in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. The renovation is part of the $1 million commitment the Foundation has made to Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.

The Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year 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.

Nominees (winner to be announced at awards ceremony July 12):

  • Detroit Pistons: Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores views the franchise as a community asset, and the organization has rallied its players, partners and fans in support of a broad range of charitable programs. The team’s response to the Flint water crisis is an important example. Gores, a Flint native, pledged $10 million to support relief and revitalization efforts in Flint and launched a private sector campaign called FlintNOW. Pistons players, head coach Stan Van Gundy, and vice chairman Arn Tellem rallied support for relief efforts throughout the NBA community, including other team owners. In addition, the Pistons partnered with the National Basketball Players Association to deliver 8,000 nutrition packs to Flint school children. The team has also hosted basketball camps and other events to inspire kids and raise awareness about issues facing the community.
  • LA Galaxy: In celebration of the LA Galaxy’s twentieth year in Southern California, the team engaged its players, ownership, staff and supporters in the “20 for Twenty” initiative to show the community its appreciation of their support. The team set out to accomplish 20 community service events around the Los Angeles area, but this goal soon expanded — 406 volunteers participated in 125 events by year’s end. From enrolling 3,000 local elementary students in the LA Galaxy Kick Start Reading Challenge, to packing 2,200 food kits for hungry families during the holidays, to spearheading the team’s Special Olympics Unified squad that competed after a pair of matches involving the Galaxy and FC Dallas, the LA Galaxy continues to score big in the community.
  • San Francisco 49ers: Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the San Francisco 49ers are seeking to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for children throughout the Bay Area. As such, the 49ers Foundation strategically created two distinct programs: The first — 49ers STEM Education Program at the 49ers Museum — annually provides a free day of STEM learning for 60,000+ students through a common core-aligned science of football curriculum. The second — the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute — is a six-year program that delivers more than 300 hours of supplemental STEM education to 60 students in grades 7-12 each year.
  • San Francisco Giants: Twenty-one years ago, the San Francisco Giants created Junior Giants to help end the cycle of violence in impoverished areas around the city. Over the years, the program has served more than 275,000 children around California, Nevada and Oregon with the help of 35,000 coaches. And while baseball participation among 6-12 year olds has decreased 14% since 2008, Junior Giants has increased participation 62% during the same time. The program also is designed to build life skills, and a survey of parents, coaches and youth players found that 76% of participants were engaged in more physical activity, 64% read more, 89% said their confidence was improved, and 86% knew what to say or do about bullying.

The Corporate Community Impact Award recognizes a corporation that uses 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.

Nominees (winner to be announced at awards ceremony July 12):

  • Bank of America: Last summer, Bank of America and Special Olympics staged the first-ever Unified Relay Across America (URAA) — organizing more than 10,000 torchbearer participants and volunteers to walk, run and wheel the Special Olympics torch from Greece through all 50 states to start the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. As a result of the Relay and Games, many more U.S. households identified as knowing a non-immediate family member, co-worker, neighbor or friend with intellectual disabilities (ID) from 24% pre-World Games to 31% post-World Games. Perceptions of the capabilities of people with ID saw similarly positive increases after the URAA and World Games. The Relay also served as the largest fundraising event in Special Olympics history, raising $4.3 million from more than 18,000 individual donors. More than 5,700 Bank of America employees volunteered in support of the Relay and World Games, serving as additional champions for a message of inclusion in local communities.
  • BASF: As the sustainability partner of the Seattle Mariners, BASF supports initiatives such as the Sustainable Saturdays program at Safeco Field, which educates fans on the value of organic waste diversion. From fan engagement within the stadium, to “zero waste stations” that encourage composting and recycling, to kitchen caddy compost bin giveaways demonstrating the value of certified compostable bin liners made with BASF’s ecovio® biopolymer, fans are empowered to join the Safeco Field team to help keep organic waste out of the landfill. And the program is working — 83% of fans who received the kitchen caddy reported increased collection of food scraps at home. This team effort also has successfully diverted nearly 6,000 tons of stadium waste from the landfill, equal to 300 tractor-trailer loads.
  • DICK’S Sporting Goods: Billions of dollars have been cut from youth sports programs nationwide in recent years and 60% of children must now pay a fee to play. Through feature-length documentaries, TV spots, and retail point-of-sale donation opportunities, DICK’S Sporting Goods’ and the DICK’S Sporting Goods Foundation’s “Sports Matters” program is raising awareness and helping to inspire fans of youth sports to take action. They have partnered with to reach the nation’s poorest public schools and empower teachers and coaches in requesting what they need to run successful youth sports programs. In total, Sports Matters has improved access to sports for nearly 150,000 students and engaged 556,000 individual donors online and in-store.
  • Kaiser Permanente: Recognizing how the power of sports can positively influence communities and deliver key health messages, Kaiser Permanente teamed up with the NBA to combat critical health and safety issues through the NBA FIT campaign. Year-round health programs, grassroots events, conferences, social legacy projects, and digital activations have led to significant impact in communities across the country. During the 2015 and 2016 NBA FIT Week presented by Kaiser Permanente, the League, its teams and its players hosted more than 210 health and wellness events impacting over 157,000 youth. Additionally, more than 1.4 million people have signed a Total Health Pledge to make healthy changes in their lives.
  • Mercedes-Benz USA: Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) recognized the power of sports and the impact it can have in terms of social change which is why MBUSA teamed up with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Through this collaboration, over 1,200 coaches have been trained and placed in underserved communities. To that end, more than 550,000 kids in 58 cities across the United States have -been given access to sports. Additionally, MBUSA and Laureus USA launched the Model City Initiative in New Orleans: a targeted city-wide approach to strengthen communities through sport. As a result, 20 community organizations agreed to work together to increase access to quality youth sports programing. The investments in these organizations have yielded an average 83% increase in human capacity, allowing them to reach an additional 10,000 youth in 2015.

The League Humanitarian Leadership Award honors a professional sports league for driving social impact. The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony July 12. The winner will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts.


In honor of former ESPN commentator Stuart Scott, this award celebrates someone that has taken risk and used an innovative approach to helping the disadvantaged through the power of sports. Candidates can include anyone who works within the sports sector. The honorees will be able to direct a $50,000 grant from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts.

Honorees to be recognized at awards ceremony July 12:

  • Billie Jean King: For decades Billie Jean King used her platform as a tennis star to champion equal pay and opportunity for all. From advocating for the passage of Title IX, to founding the Women’s Sports Foundation in an effort to increase girls’ access to sports, King has paved the way for equality in women’s sports. In 2014, she embarked on a new phase of her journey for inclusion: the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, whose sole focus is to move the needle on issues impacting diverse talent in the workplace. With women and minorities vastly underrepresented in executive positions, King is using research to inspire future leaders and to motivate people in positions of power to promote diverse identities.
  • Robert Kraft: Robert Kraft has donated hundreds of millions to charities since becoming the owner of the New England Patriots—yet it’s not just the number that’s impressive, but the innovative and personal way he’s leaving an imprint on communities across the region. Kraft is a fierce advocate for ensuring all residents of New England have access to quality health care. To that end, he’s investing millions of dollars to attract the best clinicians to assist the most underserved populations through the community healthcare systems. He started a fellowship that provides coursework at Harvard, mentoring, clinical practice and even a student-loan repayment of $50,000 per year in return for a three-year commitment to community health following completion of the program.
  • 2015 University of Missouri Football Team: Racial tensions were becoming increasingly strained at the University of Missouri last fall. Frustrations gave rise to protests — one of the most notable coming when a student at the school began a hunger strike. Students were demanding action, and the Mizzou Tigers football team stepped in and announced that they would boycott their upcoming game unless changes were made. The players took a huge risk — their scholarships could have been revoked and their futures hung in the balance. But their actions indicated it was a risk worth taking to help bring action to this critical issue.

At the inaugural Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards (2015), the following individuals, teams and campaigns were recognized:

  • Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year: Chicago Bulls
  • Sports Humanitarian of the Year: Tamika Catchings, Indiana Fever
  • Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Awards: Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll, “Like A Girl” Campaign by Always, MLB Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig and his wife Sue, and the You Can Play Project

 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

About The V Foundation for Cancer Research
The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator.  Since 1993, the Foundation has funded more than $150 million in cancer research grants nationwide.  It awards 100 percent of all direct cash donations to cancer research and related programs.  Due to generous donors, the Foundation has an endowment that covers administrative expenses.  The Foundation awards peer-reviewed grants through a competitive awards process vetted by a world-renowned Scientific Advisory Committee.  For more information on The V Foundation or to make a donation, please visit


ESPN Contact: Josh Krulewitz at (860) 766-2319; [email protected]; @jksports
Belen Michelis at (860) 766-1425; [email protected]



Belen Michelis

Belen Michelis is a senior publicist focusing on ESPN Corporate Citizenship, Spelling Bee, Invictus Games, Warrior Games, ESPN local radio (98.7FM NY, ESPNLA 710, ESPN Chicago 1000), Misc. Sports and the WNBA. Prior to joining the ESPN Communications team, Michelis worked in Ad Sales for ESPN Deportes and International from 2010-2014. Michelis graduated from Boston College in 2010.
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