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Colin Kaepernick Honored With 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award

(Colin Kaepernick – photo credit: Brook Ward)

He may not be able to get a job in his chosen field, but Colin Kaepernick can get recognition for the spotlight he’s shown on inequality and social injustice.

Sports Illustrated announced today that Kaepernick is the recipient of the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. He is the youngest to receive the award since SI began the honor.

From the announcement:

In the last 16 months, Kaepernick’s truth has been twisted, distorted and used for political gain. It has cost him at least a year of his NFL career and the income that should have come with it. But still, it is his truth. He has not wavered from it. He does not regret speaking it. He has caused millions of people to examine it. And, quietly, he has donated nearly a million dollars to support it.

For all those reasons—for his steadfastness in the fight for social justice, for his adherence to his beliefs no matter the cost—Colin Kaepernick is the recipient of the 2017 Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.

Each year SI and the Ali family honor a figure who embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy and has used sports as a platform for changing the world.

“I am proud to be able to present this to Colin for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people,” says Lonnie Ali, Muhammad’s widow. “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. And he has used his celebrity and philanthropy to the benefit of some of our most vulnerable community members.”

Previous Legacy winners—including Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Jack Nicklaus and Magic Johnson—were deserving. But no winner has been more fitting than Kaepernick. Ali lost more than three years of his career for his refusal to serve in the military in opposition to the Vietnam War. Kaepernick has lost one year, so far, for his pursuit of social justice.

In tweeting the news, SI wrote, “It is a rare person who gives up what he loves in exchange for what he believes.”

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