Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was named this year’s recipient of the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian of the Year award at Saturday evening’s annual ESPY awards.
"My role wasn't to play football, but instead to be on the front lines of the global pandemic."— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) July 11, 2021
Chiefs OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is the winner of the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award. pic.twitter.com/sixNjJ2iuZ
Duvernay-Tardif received the award as a result of choosing to opt out of the NFL season last year to fight COVID-19 on the front lines at a long-term care facility in Montreal. He has a medical degree from McGill University.
Duvernay-Tardif last spoke to the local Kansas City media back in mid-June as he returned to the team for the first time in a year.
“To me, it was never about saying we shouldn’t be able to play sports in 2020,” he said. “I feel like through the pandemic, [there were] a ton of things that divided people. Sports is probably one of the last things that brought people together. I think everybody did everything they could in order to make sports happen — and I think it was great for people. The fans needed it. Everybody went through ups and downs throughout 2020. Being able to watch the Chiefs — to watch your team — perform at a high level even though there’s a pandemic going on? It’s a great thing. It’s the tissue of our society.”
ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian Awards is “a celebration of the impact made by athletes, teams and sports industry professionals who are using sports to make a difference in their communities and throughout the world.”
Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs), Layshia Clarendon (Minnesota Lynx) and Titus O’Neil (WWE) were among the other nominees for the honor.