Sports Illustrated today announced that actor and WWE Superstar John Cena will receive the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.
The honor will be presented at Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year Awards show on Tuesday, December 11 at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles. The show will be televised nationally on NBCSN at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 13.
The Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award goes each year to an athlete or sports figure who embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy and has used sports as a platform to make the world a better place. Sports Illustrated will highlight Cena’s charitable efforts with a feature story in its December 17 Sportsperson of the Year issue.
“I am truly thrilled to receive Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award,” said Cena. “Ali’s commitment to helping others, his dedication to his sport and his generous spirit are incomparable and he was a role model to us all. To be linked with him in any way is an honor that means so much to me.”
Cena, a 16-time WWE Champion who will be starring in the upcoming feature film, has made the Make-A-Wish Foundation the focus of his philanthropic efforts. Cena has granted nearly 600 wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses, more than anyone else involved with the program. Cena also passionately advocates for breast cancer awareness and the importance of early detection.
“From his unparalleled work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to his support for a wide range of causes ranging from activism for military families to cancer research, John has made personal outreach and generosity of time and spirit his calling cards,” said Sports Illustrated Executive Editor Stephen Cannella. “He might just be the most charitable person in sports, and his dedication to philanthropy richly reflects the spirit of the Ali Legacy Award.”
Each year Lonnie Ali, Muhammad Ali’s widow, consults with SI’s editorial staff in the selection of the Legacy Award. Mrs. Ali is expected to attend the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards show.
The Sports Illustrated Legacy Award was born in 2008, when Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder and driving force behind the Special Olympics, was the inaugural recipient. SI renamed the award in honor of Muhammad Ali in 2015 in recognition of his decades as a boxing legend, humanitarian, civil rights activist and overall icon. Last year’s recipient was Colin Kaepernick, who joined previous honorees, including Earvin (Magic) Johnson, Jack Nicklaus, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Bill Russell.
Other honors to be presented at this year’s Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards will include Sportsperson of the Year, SI Kids’ SportsKid of the Year and three separate awards given to athletes who inspired, amazed and surprised the sports world in 2018.
The telecast is being produced by Sports Illustrated and JASH, a Group Nine company. Executive Producers of the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards show are Stephen Cannella, Robert Morton, Josh Oshinsky and Ian Orefice.