This year, Sports Illustrated moved away from tradition when awarding its "Sportsperson of the Year" honor. Instead of naming one or two winners, the outlet awarded the honor to a group of five athletes. In an attempt to honor the "activist athlete" this year, LeBron James, Patrick Mahomes and Naomi Osaka earned the title of the "Sportsperson of the Year" in 2020. Joining them, WNBA Champion Breanna Stewart and Super Bowl LIV Champion Laurent Duvernay-Tardif were also rewarded for their efforts.
LeBron James has stepped up and spoken out throughout the year. The four-time NBA Champion has led social justice efforts within the league, launched his "More Than A Vote" initiative and continued to expand his I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. In the world of Tennis, Naomi Osaka made waves in the U.S. Open when she wore different face masks honoring the lives of George Floyd, Breonn Taylor and several others who were killed by police violence. Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes was one of several athletes who contributed to the NFL player-led video addressing police violence across the country.
"The issues and challenges of 2020 will no doubt still be there in 2021 and beyond. But our Sportspersons of the Year set an example of how to face and one day fix them," Sports Illustrated stated.
One person who was left off the list was Maya Moore. The four-time WNBA Champion helped free Jonathan Irons who was wrongfully convicted of a robbery. While social media users and fans alike were upset, Sports Illustrated has maintained that candidates must win a championship in the calendar year to be considered for the award.
Moore has married Irons, but it is unclear if she will return to the WNBA in pursuit of a fifth title. Meanwhile, Mahomes and Tardif are currently pursuing a second Super Bowl ring, James is set to return to the court this month and Stewart will seek yet another title this summer.
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