Dec 7, 2020 - Sports

Sports Illustrated names "The Activist Athlete" as Sportsperson of the Year

An athlete on one knee.
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Five activist athletes were named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated, honored for their accolades on the field and dedication to bettering the lives of others off it.

The big picture: The athletes, ranging across three sports, "were champions in every sense of the word: champions on the field, champions for others off it," displaying leadership during a difficult year for the nation, the magazine writes.

  • Naomi Osaka: The U.S. Open champion wore a different face mask for each of her seven matches, honoring seven Black victims of racial injustice and police brutality "to make people start talking."
  • Breanna Stewart: Seattle Storm's star and this year's WNBA Finals MVP played an integral role over the summer in the ongoing fight against racism, regularly attending protests and successfully lobbying the league to include "Black Lives Matter" on the court in the bubble.
  • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: The Chiefs' starting right guard helped lead the franchise to its first Super Bowl in 50 years before returning home to Canada — where he remains, having opted out of the season — to put his medical doctorate to good use, working on the front lines of the pandemic at a long-term care facility.
  • Patrick Mahomes: The Super Bowl MVP was not only instrumental in pushing the league to recognize the Black Lives Matter movement back in June, but also helped fund the voting machines that allowed Arrowhead Stadium to become a polling location.
  • LeBron James: The elder statesman of the group, James won his fourth NBA title while launching "More than a Vote," an organization dedicated to fighting voter suppression and encouraging voter education.

Go deeper: Sportsperson of the year, the activist athlete (SI)

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