ESPN Announces 2018 Sports Humanitarian Award Nominees and Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Honorees

AnnouncementsCorporate Citizenship

ESPN Announces 2018 Sports Humanitarian Award Nominees and Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Honorees

  • NBA Legend David Robinson and the Global Sports Mentoring Program Honored with Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Awards
  • Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award Finalists, Among Other Awards, Announced

The fourth annual Sports Humanitarian Awards, presented by ESPN and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, is a celebration of the impact made by athletes, teams and sports industry professionals who use the power of sport to make a difference throughout the world. For the second consecutive year, the sports industry-wide event takes place at L.A. LIVE’s The Novo; Bristol Myers Squibb returns as a sponsor. The event will be held on Tuesday, July 17.

Highlights of the evening will be showcased during a one-hour program on ESPN, July 24, at 7 p.m. ET.

This year’s nominees include (see below for descriptions on each award and finalist):

  • Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award finalists: Doug Baldwin (NFL’s Seattle Seahawks), John Cena (WWE), Kevin Durant (NBA’s Golden State Warriors) and J.J. Watt (NFL’s Houston Texans)
  • Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year finalists: Anaheim Ducks (NHL), Boston Red Sox (MLB), Chicago Fire Soccer Club (MLS) and the U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey Team
  • Corporate Community Impact Award finalists: Hospital for Special Surgery, Under Armour, UNIQLO and Voya Financial
  • League Humanitarian Leadership Award: Winner to be announced at the Awards, July 17
  • Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honorees: David Robinson, and the U.S. Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program

ESPN will make charitable contributions on behalf of the award nominees. Additionally, the net proceeds of the event will once again benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation. Last year, more than $2 million was donated to the community on behalf of the Sports Humanitarian Awards. Additionally, Lilly Oncology will once again return as an event sponsor.

“The collective impact that this year’s Sports Humanitarian Award nominees have made in their communities is nothing short of extraordinary,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “From empowering youth through sports, to fighting for social change, to resourcing those in need, these honorees showcase the incredible power of sports. As we once again celebrate one of the greatest humanitarians in all of sports, Muhammad Ali, we see how his legacy has inspired generations of athletes to use their platform to alter social consciousness.”

Multiple sports leagues and/or governing bodies – including MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, USTA, WNBA and WWE, as well as the Women’s Sports Foundation – 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, CEO of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA, Sab Singh, Founder of Sports Doing Good, Caryl Stern, CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Eli Wolff, Director of the Power of Sport Lab and the Sport and Society Initiative at Brown University.

To continue the celebration of the power of sports on communities worldwide, ESPN will sponsor  The Laureus Summit, being held the next day, July 18 at the Conga Room (at L.A. Live), which will shine a light on sport’s positive impact on youth across the globe.

Below are the award descriptions, as well as details about the finalists and honorees for the 2018 Sports Humanitarian Awards.


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.

Nominees (winner to be announced at awards ceremony on July 17):

  • Doug Baldwin
    The son of a police officer, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin feels uniquely positioned to pursue conversations about and develop solutions to address the issues facing law enforcement and the communities they serve. Following several police-involved shootings with unarmed African American men, Baldwin has continually utilized his platform to raise and donate funds, participate in conversations, advocate for changing of state and federal laws, and pursue systemic change. He has met with over 100 local and state elected officials, organizations, community members, law enforcement and other key stakeholders to gain first-hand insight, seek opportunities to create open dialogue and ultimately create change. Baldwin also partnered with the City of Renton, home of the Seahawks training center, to build the Family First Community Center, helping to create pathways for success for local underserved families.
  • John Cena
    As a WWE Superstar, actor, TV host and philanthropist, Cena devotes much of his time working on behalf of numerous charitable causes. He is Make-A-Wish’s most requested wish granter of all time and the only celebrity to grant 500 wishes. Earlier this year, Cena starred in Make-A-Wish’s first-ever brand campaign, “Wishes Take Muscle.” Cena is also committed to Susan G. Komen and its support of breast cancer research and awareness, and is a longtime supporter of the U.S. military, recognized by USO Metro as the recipient of their 2016 Legacy of Achievement Award. He also was able to amplify The Ad Council’s “We Are America” PSA campaign to advocate for a more inclusive society. Since the “We Are America” PSA campaign launched on July 4, 2016, it has achieved nearly 60 million views.
  • Kevin Durant
    As Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors ascended to stardom in the NBA, he built a philanthropic portfolio as impressive as his play on the court. In 2012, he started the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation to enrich the lives of at-risk youth, beginning with a $1 million donation to victims to of the Oklahoma tornados in 2013 and continuing with his support of homeless youth, contributing over $400K in grants to organizations across the country dedicated to combatting the issue. Durant also has never forgotten his love and appreciation for where he grew up in Maryland, making a $10 million commitment to open the Durant Center, which in partnership with College Track will help underserved kids from Prince George’s County graduate from college. This year, Durant also contributed $3 million to his alma mater the University of Texas at Austin to support the basketball program and sports leadership. Additionally, through his foundation’s “Build It and They Will Ball” initiative, Durant will have fully renovated 20 basketball courts globally by the end of 2018, helping youth from low-income backgrounds gain access to sports.
  • J.J. Watt
    As Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texas, J.J. Watt, defensive end for the Houston Texans, felt compelled to help. He posted a video announcing a fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $200,000. He encouraged his more than 10 million followers on social media to donate, and in just 19 days, 200,000 individuals helped him raise more than $37 million, making it the largest crowd-sourced fundraiser in history. Watt was strategic and thoughtful on how to distribute the funds, spending countless hours with relief groups to ensure the best balance between short-term relief and long-term rebuilding. To date, $30 million has been allocated to rebuild homes, restore child-care centers, provide food and address health needs of those affected most by the storm. The remaining $7 million was set aside for distribution throughout 2018 as relief efforts evolve. His thoughtful approach to community service has long been at the forefront. At just 21, he started the Justin J. Watt Foundation in Wisconsin to help underserved middle school after-school athletic programs across the country. His foundation has provided funding in excess of $4 million to date.


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.

Nominees (winner to be announced at awards ceremony on July 17):

  • Anaheim Ducks
    The Anaheim Ducks’ comprehensive community initiatives, which engage everyone from the team owners, players, staff and fans, are positively impacting youth and families across Southern California.  The Anaheim Ducks Foundation’s (ADF) S.C.O.R.E. program offers free educational standards-based curriculum to over 50,000 students annually using hockey to teach educational themes, reinforce positive character building and reward youth for their dedication to pursuing academic excellence. Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play provides complimentary, introductory hockey instruction to children and adults. Since the program’s inception, more than 10,000 children have laced up their skates, and Learn to Play graduates also qualify to receive their first set of hockey equipment free if they choose to continue playing. ADF is also proud to support the Top Flight Hockey Program serving athletes with special needs to learn fundamental street and ice hockey skills.
  • Boston Red Sox
    With an engaged ownership group chaired by Tom Werner, the Red Sox Foundation have a robust strategy that finds creative solutions to ongoing challenges for children, families, veterans and communities in need. Their Home Base program has been breaking new ground, with a multi-disciplinary team of experts working together to help service members, veterans and their families heal from invisible wounds associated with service. Today, Home Base is the only private sector clinic in America with the sole focus of helping at-risk veterans and military families regain the lives they once had. To enhance educational opportunities for Boston-area students, the Red Sox Scholars program serves 288 young people, with not only college scholarships, but wrap-around services between 7th grade through senior year in college. And to engage inner city youth in baseball and softball, the Foundation funds, plans, and operates the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) and Rookie League programs for more than 700 boys and girls each summer using the sport to promote healthy choices and valuable life skills.
  • Chicago Fire
    The Chicago Fire’s P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth, Soccer) Program is helping to change the trajectory of underserved youth in Chicago through innovative and enriching sports-based programming. Recognizing two major voids within the Chicago community, P.L.A.Y.S. was created to address the lack of after-school programming and the need to improve academic performance in Chicago Public Schools. Through a soccer and social and emotional learning (SEL) based curriculum, program participants engage in five out-of-school hours per week over 10 weeks and participate in three game days. P.L.A.Y.S. has engaged more than 2,500 students since the inception of the program in 2013. Research shows a 50% drop in crime near these program spaces. Participants also have had a decrease in behavior infractions, number of disciplinary incidents, unexcused absences, suspensions, and failing grades, among positive impacts in their communities and home life.
  • U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey Team
    The 2017-18 U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey Team ignited a powerful movement, inspiring future generations of women and girls across this nation, and empowering them to rise and speak out against inequality. In March 2017, the team announced it would boycott the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship unless the players received increased training stipends and equal benefits to the men’s team. A successful resolution was reached just three days before the world championship. Players on the team put their careers, reputations and livelihoods on the line in order to fight for equitable support, and in the process, they reminded the entire nation that equality demands that women have equal standing in sports. Their tenacity flowed onto the ice as well, as the women went on to win gold against their rival Team Canada at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.


The Corporate Community Impact Award recognizes a corporation that utilizes their business platform and the power of sports to help advance a social issue, cause or community organization.

Nominees (winner to be announced at awards ceremony on July 17):

  • Hospital for Special Surgery
    Recognizing that many Tri-State Area high school football programs are in need of modern equipment and the tools to provide players with the safest possible football experience, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) partnered with the New York Giants and USA Football to create the Heart of a Giant Award. As the nation’s top orthopedic hospital for eight years running (U.S. News & World Report, 2017-2018), player safety is at the forefront of their business. To kick off the program, HSS invites local coaches to a seminar to learn safety techniques and injury prevention. Coaches then nominate high school football players who demonstrate unparalleled work ethic and a passion for the game for the Heart of the Giant Award. Nominees are highlighted across the partner platforms, and grants are awarded on behalf of six finalists and one winner to purchase new equipment for their school’s program. Now in its fifth year, hundreds of thousands have voted for their favorite players, bringing awareness and engagement with HSS via this grassroots community program. 
  • Under Armour
    Under Armour (UA) believes that sport has the power to inspire, unite and change the world. Through its #WEWILL initiative, Under Armour is turning belief into action, beginning in its hometown of Baltimore.  Through a multi-year commitment to Baltimore City Public Schools – a district where a majority of students lack equitable access to sport – UA has outfitted over 5,300 student athletes and coaches with on-field performance apparel, provided funding to upgrade 19 school facilities, donated over 30,000 hours of service by UA employees and supported the professional development of more than 45 principals.  Additionally, over 200 coaches have participated in the InSideOut initiative in partnership with the Baltimore Ravens, which is transforming the current “win-at-all-costs” sports culture into one that defines and promotes sport as a human growth experience. 
    Homelessness has risen to crisis levels around the country. The number of homeless students attending schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District grew by 50% last year to 17,258 students, and in New York City, 24,000 children living in the area are residents of the city’s shelter system. UNIQLO and Street Soccer USA have teamed up to reduce the stigma of homelessness. Street Soccer’s programs allow youth who are economically and logistically excluded from team sports to have access to the benefits of rigorous exercise, camaraderie, the pursuit of common goals and the self-confidence it fosters. UNIQLO outfits all of the players in Street Soccer USA’s Soccer-for-Social-Change Leagues so that participants can look good and feel comfortable as they train and play. Additionally, each quarter, UNIQLO brings youth to their stores in six cities for an employee training day, where participants get an introduction to a workplace environment and undergo mock interviews. Those who are of age and qualify can apply for a job on the spot. Together, UNIQLO and Street Soccer USA are using the power of teamwork and clothing to address youth homelessness.
  • Voya Financial
    Voya Financial believes all Americans deserve a secure financial future, especially those with special needs who aren’t always welcomed into colleges, the workforce or communities. One way Voya is achieving their commitment to supporting people with special needs is through Voya Cares™, and by sparking a national conversation about fostering inclusion. Through their cause-marketing campaign, Invest in Something Special™, Voya pledged $1 to Special Olympics for every “share” or “like” of inspirational Special Olympic athletes’ stories. Voya drove more than 940,000 engagements in one week, generated over 65 million media impressions, inspired millions of Americans to join the cause for inclusion, and donated over $500,000 to Special Olympics. The campaign also led to an increase in Special Olympics donations of 4 times greater than daily averages, and resulted in an increase in brand awareness for Voya. Additionally, Voya embarked on an internal inclusion campaign, pledging and working to hire those with disabilities throughout the company.

The League Humanitarian Leadership Award honors a professional sports league for driving social impact. The winner will be announced at the awards ceremony on July 17.


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.

Honorees to be recognized at awards ceremony on July 17:

  • David Robinson
    NBA Legend David Robinson epitomizes leadership through service, giving considerable care to be strategic, thoughtful and impactful in his approach to philanthropy. He uses his learnings from his decades of service to mentor and counsel other athletes on how to make strategic and lasting social change. Sixteen years ago, Robinson followed his dream of helping to create equal access to education for all students in his hometown of San Antonio. Despite being told it was too difficult of a challenge, he took a risk and launched what was then called Carver Academy. It began as a small parochial school serving 120 elementary students. But through ingenuity and hard work, it grew into a publicly-funded charter school that now enrolls more than 1,100 mostly low-income Hispanic and African American students. Over the last 16 years, every single child has matriculated to college. Robinson has been innovative in sustaining his support, starting his own private equity firm that sets aside 10% of its profits to fund his good deeds. Robinson is also the recipient of 2002-03 NBA J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award and the 2008 Mannie Jackson Human Spirit Award.
  • U.S. Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program
    The U.S. Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP) was created in 2012 by the U.S. Department of State and espnW to engage, inspire, and empower a new generation of women and girls through sports. Administered by the Center for Sport, Peace, and Society at the University of Tennessee, the GSMP pairs emerging women leaders from around the world with American women senior executives from top organizations in sports and business. During the program, mentors share valuable leadership skills and work with emerging leaders in developing strategic action plans aimed at creating sports opportunities for underserved women and girls in their home countries. Since 2012, the 99 graduates of the program have returned home to launch NGOs, affect public policy, and transform communities by providing access and opportunity to girls where none previously existed. Collectively, the emerging leaders have directly impacted more than 225,000 individuals through their work.

At the 2017 Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, the following individuals, teams and campaigns were recognized:

  • Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award: Mark Giordano, NHL’s Calgary Flames
  • Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year: San Francisco 49ers
  • Corporate Community Impact Award: DICK’S Sporting Goods
  • League Humanitarian Leadership Award: USTA
  • Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Awards: Stephanie McMahon (WWE Chief Brand Officer), the Orlando City Soccer Club and The Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality

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 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 or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

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 $200 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 Scientific Advisory Committee.  For more information on the V Foundation, please visit



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

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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