ESPN Announces Nominees for the 2024 Sports Humanitarian Awards sponsored by PENN Entertainment

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ESPN Announces Nominees for the 2024 Sports Humanitarian Awards sponsored by PENN Entertainment

Red Sox Ownership Named Sports Philanthropist of the Year Honoree

Now in its 10th year, the Sports Humanitarian Awards sponsored by PENN Entertainment is a celebration of the impact made by athletes, teams and sports industry professionals who are using sports to make a difference in their communities and throughout the world. This year, the Sports Humanitarian Awards will return the evening before the ESPYS, Wed., July 10, at Citizen News in Hollywood, Calif., as part of ESPYS Week. The awards will be featured in studio programming and during The 2024 ESPYS, which will air live on ABC on July 11 at 8 p.m. ET.

“Sports has the ability to bring people together and drive positive change to make a difference in communities that need it most,” said Kevin Martinez, vice president of ESPN Corporate Citizenship. “ESPN is proud that the Sports Humanitarian Awards will once again recognize athletes and sports figures who are using the power of sports to make a difference in communities across the globe.”

This year’s nominees and honorees include:

  • Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honoree: Brice Christianson, founder of P-X-P
  • Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award finalists: Maui Surfing Community, CJ McCollum, Anthony Rizzo, Sloane Stephens
  • Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year finalists: Angel City Football Club, Indianapolis Colts, Miami HEAT, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Sports Philanthropist of the Year honoree: Red Sox Ownership — John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Tom Werner
  • Corporate Community Impact Award finalists: Buffalo Wild Wings, JPMorganChase
  • Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award honorees: Conor Campbell, Ayanna Shah, Hannah Smith

Multiple sports leagues and governing bodies including MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, UFC, USTA, WNBA and WWE are sponsors of the Sports Humanitarian Awards and have nominated athletes and teams who are transforming lives and uplifting communities. The awards will once again benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

Below are the award descriptions, as well as details about the nominees and honorees for the 2024 Sports Humanitarian Awards.

Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Honoree
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.

Brice Christianson
From his first breath, Brice was surrounded by ASL and Deaf culture, and ASL would become his first language. His father, who was the only Deaf person in his neighborhood growing up, found solace by attending the Green Bay Packers practices as he avoided being bullied, and the Packers’ players befriended this Deaf kid. From there on, the love of sports would be embedded in the Christianson family, including Brice. Inspired by ‘interpreting’ for his father and after becoming the first professional sports ASL interpreter, Brice founded P-X-P, which specializes in making sports and entertainment more accessible by providing ASL interpreters. Brice extended P-X-P’s reach across sports by interpreting for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman during his addresses for the Stanley Cup Final starting in 2022 — a first for major professional sports. And as part of this year’s Stanley Cup Final, Christianson’s P-X-P partnered with the NHL to produce a first-of-its-kind, alternate telecasts on ESPN+ and Sportsnet+ dedicated completely to using ASL.

Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award Finalists
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.

Maui Surfing Community
The disaster in Lāhainā was the deadliest United States wildfire in more than a century, with 101 lives lost, and over 8,000 people were forced to move to temporary shelter. As the wildfires unfolded, Maui surfers and water safety teams were some of the first to respond to the disaster, and their responses proved to be critical in keeping people alive, as the fires had cut thousands of people off from escape routes or emergency aid. Surfers like Kai Lenny, who immediately started dropping off food, water and other supplies to Lāhainā via jet ski because authorities were still blocking the roads, rushed to fellow islanders’ aid at first light the next morning. Hawaiian surfing legend Archie Kalepa used his front yard to establish a communication hub and supply depot, and he led a volunteer army to get these supplies to the survivors that needed them most. There also were dozens of other local surfers and watermen who served on the front lines as firefighters and EMTs, while others made and served meals to help those who were displaced. Their work is far from over, as the Maui surfing community continues to raise awareness and funds for thousands of Maui residents, who will work together to recover and rebuild.

CJ McCollum
CJ McCollum is committed to leaving a lasting impact on the Greater New Orleans area, through a strategic approach to address issues impacting youth including criminal justice reform, access to a quality education and creating opportunities for economic advancement. McCollum, alongside the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, The National Basketball Social Justice Coalition and Senator Royce Duplessis, visited the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center and Travis Hill School to explore solutions for youth in the juvenile justice system. Since his visit, McCollum has convened with key stakeholders to understand policies and bills that have a disproportionate impact on marginalized and vulnerable youth. In response to data indicating that Louisiana is among the worst states for educational outcomes, McCollum launched the McCollum Scholars Program, a $1.1 million investment to provide 11 Pell Grant-eligible low-income students from New Orleans high schools with a four-year, needs-based college scholarship, academic coaching services, mental health resources, career preparation and internship placements. He also launched the Dream Center at the Westbank Boys and Girls Club of Metro Louisiana to provide a haven where youth can explore, learn and grow.

Anthony Rizzo
After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and beating cancer at just 18 years old, Anthony Rizzo created the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation (ARFF) four years after his diagnosis to provide critical dollars to support families battling pediatric cancer. ARFF provides resources to organizations that offer comfort and care to children and their families as they cope with cancer as well as providing direct monetary grants to pay everyday household expenses. Since its inception in 2012, ARFF has raised and donated more than $20 million to institutions that align with ARFF’s mission. Rizzo also makes monthly visits to children’s hospitals and hosts events for pediatric cancer families. ARFF’s success allowed the New York Yankee to establish the Hope 48 program to connect social workers with pediatric cancer patients and their families to reduce anxiety and normalize the hospital experience. In 2021, the World Series champion created the Rizzo Series, a group of events that are held at one-of-a-kind venues that are designed to provide pediatric cancer patients and their families a break from cancer treatment.

Sloane Stephens
Recognizing the profound positive impact that tennis has had on her life, along with the lack of diversity and representation in tennis, Sloane Stephens created the Sloane Stephens Foundation (SSF) — a chapter of USTA Foundation’s National Junior Tennis Learning (NJTL) network — to provide youth with access to the sport, promote diversity and inclusion in tennis and foster holistic youth development. SSF provides free tennis programs, educational support and mental health resources within the Compton Unified School District, communities in South Florida, and globally, through satellite programs in Haiti and South Africa. Sloane’s year-round tennis programs provide structured opportunities for over 10,000 minority youth annually to engage in physical activity, develop athletic skills and foster a lifelong love for sports, all while promoting educational attainment and academic success among program participants. Stephens and SSF are in its third cycle of providing Doc & Glo Scholarships for students attending HBCUs or planning to enter the medical field as an homage to her grandparents, who had a profound influence on her philanthropic work.

Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Finalists
The Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year honors a sports club/team that demonstrates how teamwork can create a measurable impact on a community or cause.

Angel City Football Club
Since its inception in 2020 as an NWSL team, Angel City Football Club (ACFC) has committed to leveraging its platform, partnerships and resources to foster a significant social impact, focusing particularly on women’s sports, pay equity and enhancing the quality of life in their local Los Angeles community. ACFC created an innovative sponsorship model that reallocates 10% of sponsorship revenues to community initiatives focusing on equity, essentials and education — ensuring a commitment of at least $7 million to the Los Angeles community over the next three to five years. The team also has mobilized more than 1,700 individuals to volunteer year-round for local community programs, contributing to over 5,400 collective hours of service. Through community partnerships, ACFC is offering an alternative to the pay-for-play model by creating more equitable opportunities for girls and gender-expansive individuals to play sports. In just 12 months, ACFC successfully increased girls participation from 1,966 to 4,500 across two different youth sports programs serving female and gender-expansive youth in Los Angeles. The team also has offered over 1,000 collective hours of free coaching education to its ACFC Coach Network, along with access to an online resource platform for coaches.

Indianapolis Colts
One in five American adults — including one in four Indiana residents — will suffer from some form of a mental health disorder in their lifetime, which inspired the Colts to become the first major sports franchise to launch a sweeping initiative to raise awareness about mental health disorders. Their goal is to end the stigma associated with mental health and raise funds to support projects and organizations to improve mental health, which led to the launch of Kicking the Stigma in 2020. Since its inception, the Jim Irsay family and the Colts have committed more than $30 million, through Kicking the Stigma to strengthening local mental health services, raising awareness and addressing stigma in Indiana and beyond. The Colts have funded anti-stigma training, mental health first aid, a major university institute to study and battle stigma, national PSAs, and efforts to educate fans. The team also has an intentional focus on reaching underserved populations to ensure they have access to important resources and helping train and develop more mental health professionals.

Miami HEAT
More than one in three high school students report persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and nearly one in six have an active suicide plan. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated these issues. In response, the HEAT launched the Miami HEAT Mindfulness Champions initiative in 2021. The program designates a “mindfulness champion” in all 354 K-12 public schools in Miami-Dade County, providing mental wellness training and resources to serve, assist and educate students. The HEAT also unveiled a first-of-its-kind HEAT Mindfulness Sanctuary at Carol City Senior High School, and a second one at Miami Jackson Senior High School. Both sanctuaries offer grief counseling, crisis intervention, group and individual counseling sessions, drawing, mindfulness exercises, redirection and therapeutic intervention, class visitations, implementing resilience and coping mechanisms, self-care group visits and behavior modifications. The success of the program piqued the interest of the office of the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murphy, which inspired the “Youth Mental Health Corps,” a collaborative initiative that will support youth mental health in schools and communities.

Philadelphia Eagles
According to the CDC, the prevalence of autism in children has risen from 1 in 44 to 1 in 36 over the past year. While it has become one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders, autism continues to be underfunded, misunderstood, and under-researched. Championed by Philadelphia Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie – who has a personal connection to autism – the Eagles Autism Foundation was established to fund innovative research, drive scientific breakthroughs, and provide critical resources, all to create a major shift from awareness to action. Since launching the Eagles Autism Challenge in 2018, the Foundation’s signature cycling and 5K run/walk charity event, more than $30 million has been raised for innovative autism research and care programs. The proceeds have led to the funding of 116 cutting-edge autism research projects and community grants around the world. The Eagles Autism Foundation’s year-round support for the autism community also includes a neurodiverse employment program, a state-of-the-art sensory room at Lincoln Financial Field, all abilities clinics that offer those with special needs the opportunity to participate alongside their peers and much more.

Sports Philanthropist of the Year Honoree
Boston Red Sox Ownership (John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino)
After taking ownership of the Boston Red Sox in 2002, John Henry (Principal Owner of Fenway Sports Group), Tom Werner (Chairman of Fenway Sports Group and the Red Sox Foundation), and the late Larry Lucchino (President / CEO Emeritus of the Boston Red Sox) with their partners, founded and funded the Red Sox Foundation as part of their commitment to making positive impact in the community. As part of that commitment, Henry, Werner and Lucchino have helped drive the Red Sox to invest in over $120 million across New England and in Lee County, Fla. — home of the Red Sox Spring Training. Henry and his wife, Linda, created the Fenway Park Learning Lab out of a vision to provide the inspiration, leadership and support through an immersive, educational tour for over 2,500 sixth grade Boston Public Schools students, all at no cost. With a commitment to serving veterans, Werner led the creation of Home Base, a program dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of war, which has supported more than 35,000 veterans and their families through world-class clinical care, wellness, education and research. Lucchino helped strengthen the club’s longstanding partnership with Dana-Farber and The Jimmy Fund, serving as Chairman of the Jimmy Fund and co-chair of the Institute’s $1 billion “Mission Possible” campaign from 2004-2011. Together, the owners’ efforts have helped the Red Sox Foundation raise over $167 million for cancer treatment and research.

Corporate Community Impact Award Finalists
The Corporate Community Impact Award recognizes a corporation that uses the power of sports to help advance a social issue, cause or community organization.

Buffalo Wild Wings
The ALL STARS program has given more than 2.3 million kids the chance to be a part of a team at thousands of local Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. Buffalo Wild Wings (“BWW”) developed ALL STARS with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and has invested $30 million to build, grow and sustain ALL STARS over the past decade. BWW support has helped Boys & Girls Clubs of America deliver a trauma informed, youth development-based sports curriculum to 2,000 Club staff. Last year, BWW also helped provide 1,000+ Clubs with sports equipment. In addition to financial support, local BWW restaurant leaders are engaged with their Clubs in various ways: providing catering, volunteering, and hosting Club kids at their restaurants for team celebrations and job shadowing. Additionally, guests can partner with BWW and help more kids play team sports by making contributions through the purchase of sauce bottles and by participating in fundraising events hosted in restaurants nationwide.

JPMorganChase has partnered with the USTA Foundation to make dreams possible for thousands of under-resourced youth nationwide, making lasting impact across local communities. Since 2013, Chase has been a proud sponsor of the USTA Foundation Return the Serve (RTS) program, funding more than $2 million to National Junior Tennis and Learning chapters nationwide. In 2023, RTS celebrated its 10-year anniversary of making impact and that has expanded with the help of JPMorganChase. The firm provided grants to support and fund the RTS chapters in 27 states, changing the lives of 50,000 under-resourced youth by making year-round tennis and education programming accessible. In addition to these contributions, JPMorganChase hosted 11 “Return the Serve Fun Days,” which featured high-energy tennis activities, healthy lunches for participants and financial literacy educational opportunities from experts that work in Chase branches. The lessons covered a range of topics that empowered participants with the knowledge, skills, and resources to make financial decisions to help them reach their goals.

The Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award Honorees
The Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award celebrates and honors young people who are using the power of sport as a catalyst for change and making a positive impact on society. This year, ESPN has expanded the Award to include three Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award honorees and 20 regional recipients.

Conor Campbell
Conor Campbell is a student-athlete from Trenton, New Jersey. He is a Bonner Community Scholar and has contributed more than 300 hours advocating for youth access to affordable athletic opportunities as well as contributing to research to identify funding partners for the program. When sports programs in Trenton were dropped due to budget cuts, he advocated to reinstate sports by reaching out to the New Jersey Senate, Education Commissioner and Senate Budget Committee Chair. Through his work with Academic Sports Academy and The College of New Jersey, Conor has developed an affordable basketball and enrichment program, providing safe after-school programming for elementary and middle school students. The program includes tutoring, sports activities, youth development, mentoring and life skills development.

Ayanna Shah
Five years ago, Ayanna Shah, along with and her sister Amani, founded Second Serve to shatter barriers to entry in sports by redistributing gently used tennis equipment and offering free clinics to under-resourced youth. In her role as CEO, Ayanna has grown Second Serve’s profile and impact, recruiting 100 new volunteers, confirming 76 new partnerships, and growing to reach 46 states. As a youth-led organization, Ayanna empowers young people to grow into leaders by creating service opportunities. She has created a team of 220 young leaders between the ages of 12 and 17, each of which collects equipment and donates to a multitude of low income communities throughout the United States and around the world at large. To date, they have distributed over 27,000 pieces of equipment.

Hannah Smith
Hannah Smith was born with Spina Bifida and was introduced to adaptive sports at the age of 11 through Sportable, an organization that creates opportunities by making sports accessible and inclusive for individuals with physical disabilities and visual impairments. Since joining Sportable a decade ago, Hannah has become a competitive wheelchair basketball player and advocate for the promotion of adaptive sports globally. At Sportable, she developed and launched their inaugural wheelchair basketball camp and women’s wheelchair basketball clinic. As part of a US State Department-sponsored adaptive sports cultural exchange to Turkmenistan in 2019, Hannah served as a youth ambassador representing USA. In 2023, Hannah also created the See It, Be It storytelling project, a social media initiative aimed at showcasing the diverse career aspirations of youth with disabilities and inspire young people to pursue their dreams.

In addition to the three Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award honorees, the following young people have been named regional recipients:

  • Graham Allen, San Diego, Calif.
  • Devin Arana, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Bryan Aviles, Austin, Texas
  • Sara Blau, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Alayna Burns, Durham, N.C.
  • Jalen Coleman, Inglewood, Calif.
  • Mia Darr, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Lila Emerson, Edina, Minn.
  • Brandon Hersh, Durham, N.C.
  • Aubrey McLin, Davis, Calif.
  • Kethan Mokadam, Columbus, Ohio
  • Sameer Mullick, Queens Village, N.Y.
  • Mikayla Paquette, Boston, Mass.
  • Mia PhilIppi, Portland, Ore.
  • Gianni Quintero, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Santo Raggiri, New York, N.Y.
  • Anne Stauffer, Owensboro, Ky.
  • Kourtni (Mackenzi) Stewart, Mableton, Ga.
  • Claire Wegmann-Krider, Edina, Minn.
  • Graham Wooden, Oneonta, N.Y.

About ESPN Corporate Citizenship
ESPN believes that, at its very best, sports uplift 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

John R. Manzo

Based in New York City, John Manzo is a Communications Manager for ESPN with a focus on ESPN BET, sports betting, consumer marketing and corporate citizenship. He is a Michigan native, Detroit sports fan and proud Central Michigan University graduate.
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