Four people from the sports world were honored by Time Magazine on Thursday, making its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, U.S. women’s national team forward Abby Wambach, ballerina Misty Copeland and surfer Gabriel Medina each made the list.
Silver went through a myriad of obstacles during his first year as the NBA’s commissioner as he banned former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and forced him to sell the franchise after he was heard on an audio recording making racist remarks to a companion.
Silver also helped negotiate a new nine-year, $2.6 billion television rights deal that will increase the salary cap and player salaries, and also dealt with Bruce Levenson’s racist email, in which he claimed that the Atlanta Hawks fan base was too African-American.
Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says that Silver has “handled all these potentially divisive issues with openness, fairness and integrity.”
Copeland is the first African-American dancer to play the role of Odette in the American Ballet Theater production of Swan Lake.
“Misty proves that success is not about how you grow up or the color of your skin. It doesn’t matter where you’re from. If you have the passion like Misty, you can be the best at what you do,” writes five-time Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci about Copeland.
Wambach has more international goals than any soccer player ever, and will stand up for causes that are passionate. As she leads the USWNT into the World Cup later this summer, Wambach fought for the world’s players to play on grass instead of artificial turf.
FIFA later ruled that the tournament in Canada won't be played on grass.
"Though she lost the battle, the fight sent a powerful message about equality in sports. Whether inspiring her team on the field or taking on important issues off it, Abby uses her passion and fearlessness to lead by example,” Olympic gold medalist and former teammate Mia Hamm said.
Medina won the World Championship in the Association of Surfing Professionals, becoming the first ever Brazilian to ever win that title.
Medina, 21, is making sure his sport is put on the map in a country that’s dominated by soccer. Brazil played host to the 2014 World Cup and hosts the Summer Olympics next year.
“By shaking up a sport typically dominated by Americans and Australians, Medina has become an icon in Brazil and is inspiring a new generation to make some waves,” TIME senior writer Sean Gregory said of Medina.
Top-ranked tennis player Serena Williams wrote about Bryan Stevenson, the Executive Director of the Equal Rights Initiative, a non-profit company that represents "indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system."
Williams said she admires the way Stephenson has worked hard to make sure everyone is treated equally.
"For decades, he has dedicated himself to fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal-justice system with the perfect combination of unwavering passion and idealism," Williams writes about Stevenson.
To see the complete TIME 100 list, click here.
- Scooby Axson