Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Bill Russell chosen for SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award

1972: Muhammad Ali during training for his fight with Al 'Blue' Lewis held in Dublin, Republic of Ireland in 1972. (Photo by Getty Images)
1972: Muhammad Ali during training for his fight with Al 'Blue' Lewis held in Dublin, Republic of Ireland in 1972. (Photo by Getty Images) /

Three deserving recipients in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Bill Russell have been chosen as Muhammad Ali Legacy Award recipients for 2016

The Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award can certainly be considered one of the most prestigious out there in the world of sports, as it not only honors the athletic accomplishment of a specific person, but their contributions to social activism as well. On Wednesday, the three recipients for 2016 were announced, and the editors of Sports Illustrated could not have chosen three more deserving legendary athletes.

According to a press release sent out from Sports Illustrated on Wednesday, NBA icons Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell as well as NFL legend Jim Brown are the worthy recipients this year, and they will collectively be honored during the SI Sportsperson of the Year event which will be taking place on Dec. 12 in Brooklyn, New York.

The man whom the award is rightfully named after, Muhammad Ali, died earlier this year at the age of 74 after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s Disease. Known to a lot of people for his contributions in the boxing ring, maybe even more people remember Ali for the efforts that he put forth in regards to social activism. Ali was one of the loudest voices the fight for equality has ever heard, so it’s only proper that he carries the weight of this award, which was named after him last year.

Kareem, Russell and Brown have all at one time or another made their voices heard as well and have had an impact on social change, in addition to how well they performed in the athletics world. Kareem was constantly around the fight for social change, while Russell will always be known as the man to become the first African-American NBA coach and he was also the first African-American Hall of Famer. Brown, following retirement from his brief NFL playing career, has been a steady voice for social equality as well, and has a hand in various community groups for social activism.

In a brief statement, all three men received praise for this honor from Ali’s widow Lonnie.

“Congratulations to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Bill Russell for their numerous athletic successes and more importantly, the leadership they all have displayed to make this world a much better place,” Ali said. “In times of hardship and adversity, these three remarkable individuals continued to stand up as activists to pave the way for those that followed. I honor you for that and I know Muhammad certainly would be proud that you are receiving the award that bares his name.”

All three of these men share the same ideals and philosophies as Muhammad Ali did in the social activism battle, so again, few people are more deserving of this distinct honor than these three special human beings.