Beyoncé presents Muhammad Ali Legacy Award to Colin Kaepernick

BY JILL CUENI-COHEN / DECEMBER 6, 2017 /

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Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was presented with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award on Tuesday.

Music superstar Beyoncé made a surprise appearance to present the award to the unemployed football player who turned the sport into a political circus by making a point of kneeling during the national anthem in his efforts to point out racial injustice in America.

Sports Illustrated announced Kaepernick as the recipient of the award last week.

The Muhammad Ali Legacy Award is presented annually to a person who “embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy and has used sports as a platform for changing the world,” according to Sports Illustrated.

Kaepernick is receiving the honor because of his “steadfastness in the fight for social justice, for his adherence to his beliefs no matter the cost,” the magazine said.

“I am proud to be able to present this to Colin for his passionate defense of social justice and civil rights for all people,” said Lonnie Ali, Muhammad’s widow, in a statement provided to the magazine. “Like Muhammad, Colin is a man who stands on his convictions with confidence and courage, undaunted by the personal sacrifices he has had to make to have his message heard. And he has used his celebrity and philanthropy to the benefit of some of our most vulnerable community members.”

In 2016, Kaepernick became the first NFL player to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial injustice.

President Trump has criticized Kaepernick and others for kneeling. In September, Trump said that such behavior is an insult to veterans and called the players who participated “sons of bitches.” This caused widespread protests throughout the NFL, with dozens of players dropping to their knees as the anthem played. Some teams even stayed in the locker room in their efforts to opt out of the controversy, to no avail.

Kaepernick recently filed a grievance against NFL owners, accusing them of colluding to keep him out of the league in retaliation for his outspoken views on social justice.

The NFL quarterback was also honored on Sunday with the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).