ESPN Announces the 2019 Sports Humanitarian Award Nominees and Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Honorees

Corporate Citizenship

ESPN Announces the 2019 Sports Humanitarian Award Nominees and Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Honorees

  • Ciara to Host the Sports Humanitarian Awards
  • Tyler Trent and Lina Khalifeh Named Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Honorees
  • Andy Grammer to Perform at the Awards

The fifth annual Sports Humanitarian Awards presented by ESPN and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company will be held on Tuesday, July 9, at L.A. LIVE’s The Novo and will be hosted — for the first time — by Grammy Award winner, singer and songwriter Ciara. The Sports Humanitarian Awards are a celebration of the impact made by athletes, teams and sports industry professionals who use the power of sports to make a difference throughout the world. The evening will feature a special performance by acclaimed multi-platinum pop singer and songwriter Andy Grammer. Highlights of the evening will be showcased during a one-hour program on ESPN, July 18, at 7 p.m. ET.

 “My family and I have witnessed first-hand the positive impact humanitarian efforts can have locally and globally,” said Ciara. “I am honored to celebrate athletes who are using their platforms to inspire, motivate and empower.”

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

  • Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award finalists: Reggie Bullock (NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers), Chris Long (retired NFL player), Yadier Molina (MLB’s St. Louis Cardinals) and Sloane Stephens (USTA)
  • Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year finalists: Anaheim Ducks (NHL), Chicago Fire Soccer Club (MLS), Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB), and New York City Football Club (MLS)
  • Corporate Community Impact Award finalists: Anthem Foundation, Burton Snowboards, Finish Line and Brooks Running, and Under Armour
  • Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honorees: Lina Khalifeh and Tyler Trent (posthumously)

The honorees of the inaugural Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award and the Sports Sustainability Leadership Award, along with the League Humanitarian Leadership Award, also will be announced at the Awards on July 9.

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. To date, $7.5 million has been donated to the community on behalf of the Sports Humanitarian Awards.

Multiple sports leagues and/or governing bodies including MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, Top Rank, UFC, USTA, WNBA and WWE are sponsors of the event and have 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 and Professor of Sport Management at Farmingdale State College; 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.

Below are the award descriptions, as well as details about the nominees and honorees for the 2019 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. 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 on July 9):

Reggie Bullock (NBA): Bullock has championed numerous causes dear to him. He works with NBA Cares and the Vera Institute of Justice advocating for decreased mass incarceration and systemic change. Additionally, after his sister, Mia – a transgender woman – was brutally murdered in 2013, Bullock has dedicated his life to honoring her legacy and fighting for increased visibility and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community and other social justice issues. In 2018, over 26 transgender people were murdered; 82% of them were women of color. Bullock has worked with Athlete Ally and other leading organizations to defeat a series of anti-trans bills in South Dakota that would have banned young transgender athletes from playing sports at the high school level. He also has helped in the drive to get more NCAA institutions to adopt trans-inclusive policies so all students, regardless of gender identity, are able to participate in sports.

Chris Long (NFL): Throughout his career, Long has demonstrated his commitment to giving back through strategic, multifaceted efforts which attack larger systematic issues. He donated his entire salary in 2017 to benefit educational equality, and encouraged his fans to join him in the effort. The “Pledge 10 for Tomorrow” effort raised $1.75 million to support the three cities in which he spent his NFL career: St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia. Not content with just giving money, the 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year has consistently matched his financial donations with boots on the ground efforts. His Waterboys initiative has helped more than 225,000 people in East Africa gain access to clean drinking water by building more than 61 water wells to date. Long’s ability to inspire and help other athletes get involved with his causes has led to 26 NFL players from more than 20 different teams participating in Waterboys. The program also has recently expanded into the NBA with the creation of Hoops2o.

Yadier Molina (MLB): As impressive as Molina’s on-field accomplishments are, his charitable work makes him a true All-Star. From funding a safe house for battered children, to refurbishing a local baseball park, to helping fund the growth of a facility that specializes in caring for pediatric cancer patients, he is focused on positively impacting the lives of children throughout Puerto Rico. Following Hurricane Maria’s devastation in 2017, Molina brought seven industrial sized crates to the poorest and hardest-hit areas of the island that were desperate for aid. For weeks, he and his crew picked up debris, moved fallen trees, cleared roads and delivered clean water. Molina even saved the life of an elderly diabetic man who desperately needed insulin by transporting him to a medical facility. Puerto Rico is still recovering and Molina is still contributing, providing resources and hope throughout the island.

Sloane Stephens (USTA): Youth in Compton, Calif., often lack safe, structured environments during after-school hours and in the summer. Stephens is changing the outlook for kids in this under-resourced community through the Sloane Stephens Foundation, a chapter of the United States Tennis Association Foundation’s National Junior Tennis Learning (NJTL) network, which combines tennis and education to change the lives of under-resourced youth, and equip them with the tools necessary to achieve in and out of the classroom. She developed Love, Love Compton, a program that provides tennis and education programming for Compton Unified School District children to level the playing fielding on and off the court. The program provides tennis instructors, equipment and educational programming to more than 17 schools, helping to not only increase students’ physical activity levels, but important life skills, such as confidence, problem solving and the management of adversity.

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 on July 9):

 Anaheim Ducks (NHL): In the past 25 years, the Anaheim Ducks evolved from a hockey team to a platform for change in Orange County, Calif., investing in its own community programs and supporting a wide variety of nonprofits with funds and in-kind donations. Through the Ducks S.C.O.R.E. program, 60,000 youth annually receive free, educational, standards-based curriculum to inspire students to learn via the sport of hockey. Programs like the First Flight Field Trip bring over 16,000 students to the Honda Center to learn a “Science of Hockey” concept taught by the Ducks roster; while its street hockey initiative supports teachers and introduces 18,000 students to the sport annually. Other community programs aimed at bringing hockey to first-time participants and those with special needs serve nearly 5,000 each year; and those numbers will increase with the investment and opening of the largest ice rink facility in California in January 2019.

Chicago Fire Soccer Club (MLS): More than 40% of public school students in Chicago do not graduate high school, and nearly 70 students drop out of school every day. The Chicago Fire Soccer Club is looking to change these grim statistics through an innovative after-school soccer program called P.L.A.Y.S. (Participate, Learn, Achieve, Youth and Soccer), a 10-week program integrating soccer with social and emotional learning character skills to ultimately improve participants’ academic performance, while providing a safe and supportive environment to engage in soccer. P.L.A.Y.S. participants have had a decrease in behavior infractions, number of disciplinary incidents, unexcused absences, suspensions and failing grades. There has also been a 50% drop in crime near program spaces, which is significant given that 60% of P.L.A.Y.S. schools were in the top 20 most violent neighborhoods in Chicago.

 Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB): The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) is bigger than baseball, envisioning a city where every young Angeleno, regardless of neighborhood, has the opportunity to thrive. Since inception, more than $25 million has been invested in programs and grants to nonprofits to improve access to education, health care and sports. LADF now runs and funds programs that prepare students for college; award scholarships; pay for eye screenings and glasses; inspire children to read; and use baseball and softball to build kids’ confidence and improve their lives. LADF serves 10,500 youth through its Dodgers RBI sports-based youth development program and recently completed its milestone 50th Dodgers Dreamfield, giving 300,000 kids access to a safe place to enjoy recreational activity in their own neighborhood.

New York City Football Club (MLS): New York City is home to some of the highest rates of high school dropouts in the country and is a city where one in three children are obese. Through City in the Community foundation (CITC), NYCFC delivers interconnected programs to provide safe places for young people to be active, regardless of their socio-economic background. From building 50 mini pitches across the city, to comprehensive programming that trains young leaders, to their Saturday Night Lights program that offers soccer during times when crime levels are at the highest, NYCFC works to improve kids’ health and social-emotional outcomes, reaching more than 5,000 youth per year. A recent study shows that 90% of youth involved in this programming increased their engagement in physical activity, and there is $4.50 return in health benefits for every $1 invested.

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. 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 on July 9):

Anthem Foundation: The U.S. is facing a health crisis that is unprecedented — 25 million children are overweight or obese. In an effort to create greater public awareness and funding for the pressing health challenges faced by their customers and communities, the Anthem Foundation created the Anthem Health Champion program. With a focus on enabling healthy and active lifestyles, pediatric cancer, empowerment of girls in sports, swim safety and improving self-esteem and fitness, the program works with sports’ most admired healthy role models to deliver the all-important messaging. To date they have helped 16 million kids combat childhood obesity through the holistic Triple Play program, put fitness centers in 60 elementary schools bringing physical fitness to 33,720 children, provided 3,500 at-risk youth with water safety lessons, and paired 100+ elite and collegiate athletes with girls of color between to inspire involvement in sports and in-person mentoring.

Burton Snowboards: There is a vulnerable segment of youth in the U.S. who do not have access to outdoor opportunities. This existing “opportunity gap” limits their ability to access experiences beyond their own challenging environments and step away from their daily norms. The Chill Foundation, created by Burton Snowboards founders Jake and Donna Carpenter, provides year-round programing, including snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing and stand up paddle boarding at no cost. The youth-development program addresses the inequalities around access to boardsports, as well as the potential for personal growth and development, while focusing on the resiliency of the participants to help them transfer many of their new skills and ideas to different situations in their lives. Through Chill, boardsports have become a vehicle for empowerment and overcoming obstacles for more than 25,000 young people since the program started, impacting 1,900 youth at 15 locations annually.

Finish Line and Brooks Running: While finding shoes may be something many people take for granted, for individuals with intellectual disabilities, it can be more difficult. Fifty-one percent of Special Olympic athletes in the U.S. are wearing the wrong size shoes, often due to communication barriers and lack of patience or understanding of athletes’ needs. During the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, Finish Line and Brooks Running incentivized athletes to complete lifesaving health screenings through the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program. Upon completion of a series of health screenings, including a shoe fitting, 1,431 athletes received a free pair of premium performance Brooks shoes at Finish Line’s pop-up shop. By providing properly fitted shoes, Finish Line and Brooks Running gave Special Olympics athletes a healthy foundation to pursue their goals and perform their best.

Under Armour: Sport is a unifier that helps shape the leaders of tomorrow. That is why Under Armour, the NBA and RISE teamed up to create, Building Bridges Through Basketball, in Chicago, Charlotte and Los Angeles. The 10-week program brings together youth, coaches and local law enforcement that combines on-court training with an interactive curriculum exploring topics ranging from identity and diversity to empathy and respect. The experience creates space for participants to have candid conversations, build trust-based relationships, have fun playing basketball and become leaders in their community. This partnership with NBA Voices is one of UA’s #WEWILL initiatives focused on working with communities to provide opportunities through sport. From building and renovating hundreds of sports facilities in cities around the world to supporting leadership training and sports programming for millions of students, UA is committed to unlocking kids’ potential, while inspiring and uplifting our hometowns.


In honor of former ESPN commentator Stuart Scott, this award celebrates individuals that have taken risks 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 to be recognized at awards ceremony on July 9, and will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts.

Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Presented by UFC

Lina Khalifeh: Khalifeh, a Taekwondo champion with 20 gold medals under her belt from national and international completions, saw first-hand that women in her home country of Jordan, and all over the Middle East, were experiencing high levels of domestic violence. She took a risk and used her martial arts experience to create SheFighter, the first women’s-only, self-defense school in the Middle East, empowering women both physically and psychologically through martial arts. Since its inception in 2012, Khalifeh has trained more than 18,000 women globally, including orphans, pediatric cancer patients and women with disabilities, as well as 4,000 Syrian refugees. SheFighter also has employed 500 coaches, helping women gain meaningful employment and obtain their own income. What started as self-defense lessons for friends in her home, has grown to studios in over 35 countries, as she works with women all over the world to learn self-defense and empowers them to take on active roles in society.

Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Presented by Bristol-Myers Squibb

Tyler Trent: The legendary Purdue fan’s story of courage and hope inspired and captivated a nation with his infectious spirit, gratitude and grace throughout his battle with the rare bone cancer osteosarcoma. Relentless in his battle and driven by his fandom for the Boilermakers, the 20-year-old honorary co-captain of the Purdue football team managed to attend classes and games, and never allowed cancer to prevent him from living out his dreams in sports journalism and serving others. He spent the final days of his life at home in hospice care, but Trent was committed to sharing his story to raise money to eradicate the disease and improve the lives of others who face a similar battle. He rose to national recognition and befriended many members of the sports industry, using his new platform to encourage fans to donate to cancer research -– raising more than $2.2 million for Purdue University, the Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health and the V Foundation.

At the 2018 Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, the following individuals, teams and campaigns were recognized:

  • Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award: Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors
  • Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year:S. Women’s National Ice Hockey Team
  • Corporate Community Impact Award: UNIQLO
  • League Humanitarian Leadership Award: WWE
  • Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Awards: David Robinson (NBA legend) and The U.S. Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program

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.


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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