Olympic Gold Medalists LeBron James, Breanna Stewart Among Sports Illustrated’s 2020 Sportspersons of the Year
James and Stewart List Alongside NFL Champions Patrick Mahomes and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and U.S. Open Tennis Champ Naomi Osaka
Sports Illustrated named five athletes as its combined 2020 Sportsperson of the Year, and NBA and WNBA championship MVPs LeBron James, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Breanna Stewart, a two-time FIBA World Cup and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, were among the five top champions, both on and off the field of play.
Patrick Mahomes, the 2020 Super Bowl MVP, and his former Kansas City Chiefs teammate Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, as well as 2020 U.S. Open Tennis champion Naomi Osaka round out SI’s list of champion athletes who also were activists and used their platforms to advocate for social justice.
In addition to leading the Los Angeles Lakers to the 2020 NBA championship, James, who also earned SI’s annual Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, used his platform off the court to encourage people to vote through the More Than a Vote organization. On the court, he was simply being LeBron: earning his fourth NBA title and fourth NBA Finals MVP award, he averaged a double-double of 25.3 points and a league-leading 10.2 assists to go with 7.8 rebounds per game during the 2019-20 season. He currently sits at No. 3 among all-time NBA scoring leaders, 4,146 points behind the all-time leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 38,387 career points.
Stewart, who returned to the court for the first time since tearing her Achilles tendon during the 2019 EuroLeague Final Four in April, with the USA National Team on Jan. 27, 2020, played four games with the USA squad prior to returning to EuroLeague action in February. After sitting out the 2019 season, the 2018 WNBA and 2018 WNBA Finals MVP picked up right where she left off and helped lead the Seattle Storm to the 2020 WNBA championship, earning WNBA Finals MVP yet again. The three-time USA Basketball Female Athlete of the Year also was a vocal activist off the court and as a member of the WNBA’s Social Justice Council.
According to SI, the remaining three activist athletes were equally involved in various aspects of social justice movements. Mahomes off the field used his platform to “push the league to recognize the Black Lives Matter movement and players’ right to protest.” Osaka “embraced her fame and found her voice in the fight against social injustice” and Duvernay-Tardif, a doctor, left the NFL after earning the Super Bowl title and returned to Canada to work on the front lines during the pandemic.