Putting a bow on an outstanding 2020 campaign, Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright was named Male Sports Star of the Year at the 86th annual Seattle Sports Star of the Year Awards.
"This award, it's truly an honor," Wright said via Seahawks.com. "It's an award the fans voted for - I've always tried to be a staple in the community, on and off the field, and to be recognized with this award is amazing. I've always watched the show - I've never been - but I've always watched it and seen some of my teammates be a part of it, and I thought it'd be cool to be part of it someday. So I'm really excited."
As Wright alluded to, several of his current and former teammates have previously won the award. Most recently, Bobby Wagner captured the honor in 2016, while Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, and Michael Bennett also earned the award in previous seasons.
To win the award, Wright edged out Jordan Morris of the Sounders, Kyle Lewis of the Mariners, Kyle Manzardo of Washington State baseball, and Elijah Molden of Washington football.
Aging like fine wine, the 31-year old Wright may have put together the finest season of his career for the NFC West champion Seahawks. After starting the season at his typical weakside linebacker spot, he made a seamless transition to strongside linebacker following a season-ending injury to Bruce Irvin, finishing with 86 tackles, an interception, 2.0 sacks, and two fumble recoveries. Most notably, he was the only defender in the league with double-digit tackles for loss and passes defensed.
Though he was once again snubbed in Pro Bowl voting, for the first time in his career, Wright received the Steve Largent Award. Voted on by players themselves, the franchise annually presents this award to the player who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication, and integrity of the Seahawks.
It's been quite the journey for Wright, who entered the NFL as an unheralded fourth round pick out of Mississippi State in 2011 simply hoping to make Seattle's roster. Now a decade later, while he hasn't received many individual accolades, he's been a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, racked up over 900 tackles to move into third place in the franchise record books, and played a staring role for one of the best defenses in league history on the way to a Super Bowl title.
Wright has also been a force off the field over the years - something he acknowledged as a significant factor towards winning Seattle Male Sports Star of the Year - helping build houses for those in need in south Seattle and constructing wells to bring fresh water to villages in Kenya among many other community-driven projects.
Set to become an unrestricted free agent next month, Wright and coach Pete Carroll have both indicated they love to see him return to Seattle, but it remains unclear whether that will happen or not. Both the player and the team have to make important financial decisions and while the veteran linebacker has made it clear he won't take a "hometown" discount to re-sign with the Seahawks, he's hopeful he will receive a strong contract offer to stay in the Pacific Northwest.
"It's meant everything," Wright remarked. "I believe I put together a Ring-of-Honor resume with my play, how I've helped in the community, helped bring the team a Super Bowl. The legacy is pretty cool. I'm thankful for every play that I've played, and I definitely want to come back and finish it and get a ring. We'll have to wait and see."
In addition to Wright being a nominee for the Male Sports Star of the Year, the Seahawks were nominated for Seattle Sports Story of the Year after finishing 12-4 and winning an NFC West title. The Seattle Storm ended up winning the award after capturing their second WNBA title in three years.