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Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award Winners

There is perhaps no greater example of an athlete using their influence to make a greater impact on the world outside the playing arena than legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. That's why, in 2015, Sports Illustrated renamed its Sportsman Legacy Award to bear Ali's name. The honor has been bestowed upon one athlete or former athlete each year that best embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy as vehicles for changing the world.

“When I was featured on my first Sports Illustrated cover in 1963, it was a huge turning point in my career," Ali said in 2015. "Ever since, Sports Illustrated has been there documenting the great moments of my life, a relationship that has been integral to both my boxing career and now, the mission and legacy of the Muhammad Ali Center. It’s a relationship for which I will always be grateful. To have an award named in my honor by Sports Illustrated is something I could have never expected as a young man back in 1963 when I posed for that first cover. I am truly touched. I know there will be a great tradition of champions to receive this award in the future and I look forward to celebrating their spirit and accomplishments.”

The Sportsman Legacy Award was first given out in 2008, then not again until 2014, the year before it was named after Ali. The 2021 winner is Billie Jean King. See the list below for past winners:

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