Sports Illustrated has selected its 2020 Sportsperson of the Year, choosing five athletes who shared the same label in 2020: The Activist Athlete. This list includes five athletes, including two members of the Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, LeBron James, Breanna Stewart and Naomi Osaka.
SI will continue to tell the story of the honorees beginning on Monday, but the announcement came with short summaries of why each athlete was chosen for this honor.
A Super Bowl victory—complete with game MVP trophy—cemented his status as the NFL’s top player, but it’s what Mahomes has done off the field since that’s elevated him to a new level of importance.
He was the starting right guard for the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. But he’s also a doctor, and when the pandemic came, Duvernay-Tardif traded in his uniform and cleats for medical scrubs.
Mahomes began to use his platform for activism following the police killing of George Floyd. Mahomes and teammate Tyrann Mathieu were among a group of Black NFL stars who appeared in a video directed to the NFL and NFL owners in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the players' rights to peacefully protest.
Mahomes and Mathieu also led a voter registration push that resulted in Arrowhead Stadium becoming a voting location in the 2020 general elections, in part because Mahomes helped pay for the voting machines that were used.
In June, Mahomes was asked what he would say to fans who tell him and other athletes to "stick to sports."
“We are people too,” Mahomes said. “I feel like those people [who say stick to sports] have kids and they understand that their kid could play sports and their kids could possibly be in the same position that we’re in. They would want their kids to show their heart and show who they truly are and try to affect the world in the most positive way possible. That’s what we believe that we’re doing.”
Duvernay-Tardif, a starting member of the Chiefs' offensive line in Super Bowl LIV and a doctor of medicine, opted out of the 2020 NFL season to fight COVID-19. Duvernay-Tardif began fighting the coronavirus shortly after the Chiefs won their championship — and shortly after he had heard of COVID-19 for the first time.
After Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the season, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said he was proud of "Larry's" decision and wasn't surprised by his choice.
"I’m a huge Larry Duvernay-Tardif fan, and I was also raised by a doctor," Reid began. "I understand the dedication that it takes to be a doctor, and we’re all blessed to have doctors in our lives. They’re givers. They’re not takers. They’re givers. They’re healers. They want the best for you, so Larry has that quality. And you’re seeing it to the utmost here. I just think it’s tremendous dedication to his profession, what his future is going to be, and mainly to the people that he gets to help."