ESPN will showcase highlights of the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards tonight Friday, July 15, during a 30-minute program at 7 p.m. ET. The second annual event, held at the Conga Room at L.A. LIVE and presented by ESPN, celebrated and honored leagues, teams, individuals and members of the sporting community that have used the power of sport to make a positive impact on society.
Laila Ali returned for the second time as host for the event, with a live performance by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Andra Day. John Skipper, President of ESPN, stated how Laila Ali is “an incredible woman, athlete, mother and beloved daughter who meant the world to someone [Muhammed Ali] who meant the world to us.” In recognition of Muhammed Ali, Skipper honored Laila with a “$100,000 donation to the Muhammed Ali Center from ESPN, to help ensure that his [Muhammed’s] vision and commitment to humanitarian efforts continue.”
During the event, winners were honored from 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 were also recognized.
There were many inspiring moments, including when one Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award winner honored another in a meaningful way. Robert Kraft recognized Billie Jean King in his acceptance speech and announced he would give the event’s $50,000 donation that he gets for the award to the Women’s Sports Foundation in honor of Billie Jean King and he would also match it for a total donation of $100,000.
Kraft said, “I have a special affinity for Billie Jean. I saw what her leadership was really about. When she was outed against her will, lost all her income and still stayed out there, played, did her thing and didn’t complain, and was still a great role model. I think she has done more for the glass ceiling than anyone else I know. All of us have a chance to do great things but Muhammad Ali, the way he brought our communities together with his iconic personality – Billie Jean did the same thing with her perseverance.”
Former Missouri co-captain Ian Simon accepted the third Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award present to University of Missouri football team
Tune-in to hear the speeches of that night from Chris Paul (Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award), San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer, representing the San Francisco Giants (Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Award), NBA president of social responsibility and player programs Kathy Berens representing the NBA (League Humanitarian Leadership Award) and Meredith Verdone, Head of Global Wealth Management Marketing & Global Brand Strategy representing Bank of America (Corporate Community Impact Award).
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 www.espn.com/citizenship.
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 www.jimmyv.org.