ESPN will showcase highlights from the Sports Humanitarian Awards presented by ESPN and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb Tuesday, July 25, during a special one-hour program at 7 p.m. ET. The third annual event, held last week at the L.A. LIVE’s The Novo, 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.
The evening opened with a video tribute to Muhammad Ali, written by ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi and voiced by Laila Ali. The top award for an athlete was renamed this year after Ali, as the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award. Laila Ali returned for the third time as host alongside first-time co-host Mike Greenberg, and the event closed with a live performance by Grammy Award winner Patti LaBelle. Laila Ali captured her father’s legacy of humanitarianism when she quoted him in her opening remarks: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
More than $1.1 million was raised through the Sports Humanitarian Awards, which will benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at The V Foundation. Said Teresa Bitetti, senior vice president, US Oncology, Bristol-Myers Squibb, “We’ve made significant progress for cancer patients by advancing treatments and supportive resources, but the unfortunate reality is that not everyone receives the same level of care. The Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund aims to close disparities in care by taking where you live and how much you make out of the care equation.”
Additionally, ESPN will grant an additional $1 million to the charities of the nominees and winners. In total, more than $2 million will be distributed to the community as a result of the initiative. The winners and honorees were able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to a qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts. Each finalist will be able to direct a $25,000 grant to the charity related to their award-winning efforts.
John Skipper, President of ESPN, noted on stage how, “We created this event to honor those doing the right thing in sports, to help others, and to raise funds for the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund.” In acknowledging the renaming of the top individual award after Muhammad Ali, Skipper added, “There can be no more emblematic way to recognize those tonight.”
During the event, winners were honored from four award categories – the newly renamed Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year, Corporate Community Impact Award and League Humanitarian Leadership Award. Additionally, three Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honorees also were recognized.
Presenters included Laila Ali, George Takei, Lance Bass, Angie Harmon, Tony Hawk, Ronda Rousey, Katie Couric, Omari Hardwick and Ibtihaj Muhammad.
Mark Giordano, winner of the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award stated in his acceptance speech that “being mentioned in the same sentence as Mr. Ali is an incredible honor. He is an icon.” Giordano continued, “It’s important to give back to your community and I am honored to be around such impactful people tonight.”
There were many entertaining and inspiring moments including when the WWE’s Stephanie McMahon (a Stuart Scott ENSPIRE AWARD honoree), introduced by Ronda Rousey, joked that “the last time she saw Ronda Rousey, she had her in an arm bar in the middle of a wrestling ring so she was happy to give her a hug.” McMahon was quoted in a piece highlighting her accomplishments saying, “There is no greater gift in this world than to give back.”
Additionally, DICK’S Sporting Goods was recognized with the Corporate Community Award and the company’s vice president Ryan Eckel stated how, “We feel a responsibility to use the power of sports to inspire change.”
The Ross Initiative for Sports Equality (RISE) was another Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honoree. Miami Dolphins Chairman and CEO Stephen Ross accepted the award, and urged the crowd to use their platforms to help when he stated, “We are so lucky to be involved in sports.”
The telecast will include excerpts from all the honorees’ speeches: Mike Giordano (Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award), San Francisco 49ers co-Chairman Dr. John York, representing the San Francisco 49ers (Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Award), USTA Chairman, executive director and COO Gordon Smith representing USTA (League Humanitarian Leadership Award), Ryan Eckel, vice president of Brand representing DICK’S Sporting Goods (Corporate Community Impact Award), Stephen Ross, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Miami Dolphins (Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award for RISE), Kay Rawlins, Founder, Vice President of Community Relations & Foundation President of Orlando City SC (Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award for #OrlandoUnited) and Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s Chief Brand Officer (Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award).
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About ESPN Corporate Citizenship
ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplifts the human spirit. Its corporate citizenship programs use the 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 is dedicated to declaring victory over cancer. It 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 $170 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. Not a Moment to Lose, its boldest fundraising campaign to date, aims to raise $200 million for cancer research by 2020 to help transform the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. 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, please visit www.jimmyv.org.
About Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali is one of the most recognizable and influential sports figures of all time. His countless awards and accolades include being named Sports Illustrated’ s Sportsman of the Century,” GQ’s “Athlete of the Century,” and being the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freeman and the Amnesty International Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition to his groundbreaking achievements as an athlete, Muhammad Ali was a global citizen who dedicated much of his life to helping those in need. He facilitated the delivery of medical supplies to an embargoed Cuba, provided more than 22 million meals to the world’s hungry and helped secure the release of fifteen U.S. hostages from Iraq during the first Gulf War.
About Bristol-Myers Squibb
Bristol-Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb, visit us at BMS.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.