As the NFL and its enablers continue to deny Colin Kaepernick employment due to his career-sacrificing stance on police brutality and institutional racism, society-at-large keeps affirming that his actions are truly in-line with the values that we were all taught personify America, yet rarely see acted upon in such a sacrificial manner.
Today it was announced that Kaepernick will be this year’s recipient of the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, which typically goes to sports figures who have used their platform for change.
It is a rare person who gives up what he loves in exchange for what he believes. Colin Kaepernick is the winner of SI's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. https://t.co/bUQotMxxFE
Kap is the youngest winner of the award and has only been in the national spotlight for social justice for a little more than a year. However, SI believes he met all the necessary criteria for the selection process.
“The Muhammad Ali Legacy Award is given to those who make the world a better place,” Steve Cannella, Sports Illustrated executive editor, told USA TODAY Sports. “The fact Colin hasn’t played this year or been on the field doesn’t disqualify him. That fact that he hasn’t played in a game actually shows what he has sacrificed for standing up for what he believes. There will never be another Muhammad Ali, but you can see the echoes of (Ali) in what Colin has done over the last 12 to 15 months.”
Kap’s protest started in 2016, with additional players supporting him in his endeavor last year. Scores more followed suit this season. Kaepernick is currently being blackballed, something the league denies, and the President of the United States has brought the office to new lows in his personal war against Colin, as well as other like-minded professional athletes.
Lonnie Ali, Muhammad Ali's wife of more than 30 years before the legendary boxer died in June 2016, played a role in deciding the winner.
“I am proud to be able to present this year’s SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award to Colin Kaepernick for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people,” she said in a statement. “Like Muhammad, Colin is a man who stands on his convictions with confidence and courage, undaunted by the personal sacrifices he has had to make to have his message heard. He has used his celebrity and philanthropy to benefit some of our most vulnerable community members."
ColinKaepernick is 2017's winner of the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award 🏆, given to sports figures who have used their platform to initiate change. Much deserved @kaepernick7! ✊
Cannella, who also produces the awards show that will be broadcast for the first time nationally on NBC Sports Network (8 p.m. ET, Dec. 8), understands there could be some controversy in selecting Kaepernick.
Sports Illustrated’s Legacy Award began in 2008, and Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver was the first recipient. The honor was not intended to become an annual award, but it has been each year since 2014, when Magic Johnson was honored.
Sports Illustrated renamed the award after Ali in 2015, and legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus won that year. Last year, the award was shared by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Bill Russell.