John Cena will receive the Sports Illustrated Muhammad Ali Legacy Award in honor of his leadership as a philanthropist.
Cena, 41, is a 16-time WWE champion, but his impact is felt most outside of the ring. He works closely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and has granted nearly 600 wishes for children with life threatening illnesses, more than anyone else involved with the organization. Cena also advocates for breast cancer awareness and early detection.
"I am truly thrilled to receive Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award," Cena said. "Ali's commitment to helping others, his dedication to the sport and his generous spirit are incomparable and he was a role model to us all. To be linked with him in any way is an honor that means so much to me."
Sports Illustrated Executive Editor Stephen Cannella, who helped select Cena for the award along with other SI editors, said the wrestler was selected based on his commitment to philanthropy.
"From his unparalleled work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to his support for a wide range of causes ranging from activism for military families to cancer research, John has made personal outreach and generosity of time and spirit his calling cards,” said Sports Illustrated Executive Editor Stephen Cannella. “He might just be the most charitable person in sports, and his dedication to philanthropy richly reflects the spirit of the Ali Legacy Award."
The Legacy Award was created in 2008 and renamed after Ali in 2015 in recognition of his decades as a boxing legend, civil rights activist and icon. Previous recipients include Colin Kaepernick, Jack Nicklaus, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
The award presentation will take place at SI's Sportsperson of the Year event on Dec. 11 at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles.