Beyoncé presence at Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year ceremony was a special surprise and she made it clear that she admires Kaepernick, who started the anthem protests and motivated other NFL players to take the knee this season.
While the player said he was protesting to bring awareness on the racial injustice in America, Kaepernick was not employed since no other NFL team wanted to sign him. Yet he received a special award Tuesday, Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.
Beyoncé felt “proud and humbled” to present the award given to “former athletes and sports figures who embody the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy as vehicles for changing the world,” ESPN reported. During a video tribute, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won the Ali Award last year, called Kaepernick a “worthy recipient.”
“Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion, only hope to change the world for the better, to change perception, to change the way we treat each other – especially people of color,” Beyoncé said.
“It’s been said that racism is so American that when we protest racism, some assume we’re protesting America,” she stated. “So let’s be very clear. Colin has always been very respectful of the individuals who selflessly serve and protect our country and our communities and our families. His message is solely focused on social justice for historically disenfranchised people.”
Kaepernick said that “with or without the NFL’s platform,” he will continue to “work for the people.”
“I accept this award not for myself but on behalf of the people, because if it were not for love for the people, I would not have protested, and if it were not for the support of the people, I would not be on this stage,” he said. “With or without the NFL platform, I will continue to work for the people, because my platform is the people.”
Kaepernick, who issued a grievance against the NFL saying the NFL owners are colluding against him to keep him out of the NFL, said that Muhammad Ali the boxing legend, who passed away in 2016, “mentored me without ever meeting me.”
“The footprints he leaves are large,” Kaepernick stated, “and his life is and has been a multi-textured tapestry that is rich in love, wisdom, life lessons and human kindness. I can only hope that I’m taking steps toward walking on the footsteps that he has left behind for the world to follow.”
Kaepernick wasn’t accessible for questions and wasn’t on the red carpet before the show that will air on Friday on NBC Sports Network.
This isn’t the first award Kaepernick has received, he was named GQ magazine’s “Citizen of the Year,” and the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award by the ACLU of Southern California, presented by Jane Fonda.
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