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  • Former NFL player, activist Colin Kaepernick

    Former NFL player, activist Colin Kaepernick | Photo: EFE FILE

Published 6 December 2017

Colin Kaepernick hopes "to change perception, to change the way we treat each other. Especially people of color," award presenter, Beyonce, said.

Former National Football League (NFL) quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick, while accepting Sports Illustrated's 2017 Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, said he will continue to work for the people “with or without the NFL's platform.”

Kaepernick Wins Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award

Sports Illustrated said Kaepernick received the honor due to his "steadfastness in the fight for social justice, for his adherence to his beliefs no matter the cost."

The sidelined football player was presented with the accolade by recording artist and philanthropist Beyonce – who stirred public sensibilities with deliberate politically-charged statements composing the blueprint of her most recent audio-visual offering, Lemonade.

The artist shared that she was both "proud and humbled" by the occasion.

"Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion," Beyonce said. "Only hope to change the world for the better. To change perception, to change the way we treat each other. Especially people of color."

She added that it was necessary to recognize "former athletes and sports figures who embody the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy as vehicles for changing the world."

Former honoree, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, said Kaepernick was a "worthy recipient."

"He fully embraced the risk to his career in order to remind Americans of the systemic racism that was denying African-Americans their opportunities to equal education, jobs, health and even their lives," Abdul-Jabbar said.

The ex-49er said he hoped to continue Ali's legacy of fighting social injustice, saying the late iconic boxer "mentored me without ever meeting me."

"The footprints he leaves are large," Kaepernick said, "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 in the footsteps that he has left behind for the world to follow."


Kaepernick was also recently honored by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California with the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award as well as being named GQ magazine's "Citizen of the Year."

Last season, Kaepernick kneeled, during the national anthem segments of games, in protest of racial inequality and police brutality.

The action caught on with fellow NFL colleagues, who have continued the protests, this season, amid scolding from U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump berated the NFL players referring to them as “sons of bitches,” prompting additional players to join the #TakeAKnee movement.

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