Lynx forward Maya Moore, Patriots defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty, Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and WWE star Titus O’Neil were named finalists Wednesday for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award for their work in the community.
The winner of the award, given to an athlete whose demonstrated leadership has created a positive impact on their community through sports, will be named at the ESPYs, to be aired on ESPN on June 21.
Moore, a five-time All-Star and former WNBA MVP, took a leave from the game in 2019 to pursue justice for Jonathan Irons, who as a minor in 1993 had been sentenced to 50 years in prison for burglary and assault. In March, Irons’ conviction was overturned by a judge who called the initial finding weak, circumstantial and marked with inconsistencies.
The McCourtys have mounted several efforts for criminal justice reform for juveniles and educational reform in Massachusetts. Partly through their efforts, the Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill that will invest $1.5 billion in the state’s public education system over the next seven years, focusing on underfunded schools with low-income students.
Cruz has transformed the infrastructure of his hometown of Las Matas De Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic. He has secured a fire engine and an ambulance, built a new police station, contributed wheelchairs and crutches, and he annually brings dentists and optometrists to a local clinic to provide checkups, medicine and eyewear.
Love has spoken openly about his own anxiety and depression, and through his Kevin Love Fund is developing an education curriculum designed to destigmatize anxiety and depression.
O’Neil is helping transform a magnet school into an innovative education and community hub in Tampa, Florida.
Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York City FC and the Sacramento Kings are all finalists for the Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year, which is given to a franchise that demonstrates how teamwork can create a measurable impact on a community or cause.
The Broncos have funded their own branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and also fund and participate in Futures Football, a spring tackle program for area middle school students.
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation helps tackle pressing problems with a mission to improve education, health care, homelessness and social justice, and the team has also keyed the “Dodgers Reading Champions” online program for students and the Dodgers Dreamfields program, which builds or refurbishes baseball and softball fields in underserved communities.
The City in the Community program by New York City FC delivers free health and STEM education programs in over 80 public schools and community-based organizations, and the team’s Saturday Night Lights crime prevention program offers soccer during peak crime hours. In addition, the team runs a Young Leadership Council and has helped donate more than 143,000 meals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help address social justice issues, Kings owner Vivek Ranadive created a partnership with Build.Black, a coalition formed to transform Black communities with deep investment in Black youth. In addition, the team partnered with the Bucks to host a daylong summit and has participated in youth healing forums, STEM education and mentoring workshops, and a co-ed youth basketball league.
Burton Snowboards, the Anthem Foundation, Nike and the Peach Bowl are all finalists for the Corporate Community Impact Award.
The winners of all these awards will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to a charity related to their humanitarian efforts. The finalists will receive a $25,000 grant for their charity.