Nominees and select honorees from across the world of sports were unveiled for the third annual Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, presented by ESPN and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb. The event will celebrate and honour leagues, teams, individuals and members of the sporting community that are using the power of sport to make a positive impact on society. The awards will take place at L.A. LIVE's The Novo on Tuesday, July 11 at 7 p.m. PT.
Multiple sports leagues and/or governing bodies - including MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA TOUR, USOC, USTA, WNBA and WWE - have nominated athletes, teams and community members who are transforming lives and uplifting communities.
During the event, winners will be announced from nominees of three returning award categories: Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year, Corporate Community Impact Award and League Humanitarian Leadership Award. New this year is the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award (changed from last year's Sports Humanitarian of the Year) to honor the legacy of Muhammad Ali's impact on society. Additionally, three Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award honorees will be recognized.
The Calgary Flames are proud to announce captain Mark Giordano has been named a finalist for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award, which recognizes an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a positive impact on their community through sports. The winner will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts. The finalists will be able to direct a $25,000 grant to the charity related to their award-winning efforts.
PGA Tour Golfer Ernie Els, Arizona Cardinals' wideout Larry Fitzgerald and New York Mets' outfielder Curtis Granderson are the other finalists.
"I am truly humbled and honoured to be a finalist for this prestigious award," said Giordano. "Muhammad Ali is one of the most recognizable and influential sports figures of all time. Along with his accomplishments as an athlete, Mr. Ali's selflessness, courage and compassion outside the boxing ring inspired so many around the world. My wife Lauren and I look forward to being alongside other athletes, teams and community members to celebrate and recognize the humanitarian efforts through sport amongst the athletic community."
Undrafted but now at the forefront of the Calgary Flames, Giordano never loses sight of what got him to the NHL, and consistently exhibits conviction, integrity and bravery in his long-history of giving back to the community. His 5 for 5 initiative provided the funding to build five homes with Habitat for Humanity in Ethiopia, India, Kenya, the Philippines and the Calgary area. In collaboration with the Calgary Board of Education, Mark and Lauren created Team Giordano in 2014. Funded by the Giordanos, the Calgary Italian Open and the Flames Foundation, and in partnership with Pizza 73, ATB Financial and Cardel Homes, the program has donated $300,000 to four high-needs Calgary schools and has impacted the lives of 1,900 students. The program not only provides resources, including computers, supplies and their own "Gio Journals" to track students' progress, but promotes physical fitness, academics, and the positive behaviors that lead to success in life. And the program is working-with one school reporting that 88% of students are reading at grade level thanks to the literacy resources provided courtesy of Team Giordano. Additionally, he stands behind other important community causes, including stamping out discrimination based on sexual orientation and support of mental health awareness.
Laila Ali will return as host for the Sports Humanitarian Awards for the third year alongside ESPN's Mike Greenberg. Highlights of the evening will be showcased during a one-hour program on ESPN on Tuesday, July 25, at 7 p.m. ET.
The net proceeds of the event will benefit the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation. In addition, ESPN will grant another $1 million to the charities of the nominees and winners. Combined, more than $1.7 million was distributed to the community as a result of the initiative in 2016.
The finalists and winners have been determined by an independent selection committee, which includes: Nick Keller, Founder and President of Beyond Sport, Donald Lassere, CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, CEO of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation USA, Sab Singh, Founder of Sports Doing Good, Caryl Stern, CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Eli Wolff, Director of the Sport and Society program at Brown University.