Time Inc.’s (NYSE: TIME) Sports Illustrated honored LeBron James as the 2016 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year at a star-studded gala at Barclays Center in New York on Monday night. Grammy award-winning artist Jay Z paid tribute to the Cleveland Cavaliers star in a speech in which he recognized his transcendent year on and off the court.
James said: “This award is for my wife. This award is for my mother. This award is for my three kids back home … This award is for the great Muhammad Ali, for Bill Russell, for Jim Brown, for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar…. So as I stand up here, as the recipient of the 2016 Sportsperson of the Year, this isn’t about me – this is much bigger than me and I just want to say thank you to everyone.”
Jay Z on LeBron James: “LeBron James has made all of those around him better on and off the court. We acknowledge and recognize all he has done for the game. But, tonight we say thank you. Not just for your commitment to basketball, but for all you’ve done for the community. And thank you for how you’ve enriched the lives of all those around you. We messed around and got a triple double in real life.”
Lonnie Ali and Peyton Manning honored iconic athletes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Bill Russell with the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. Both Abdul-Jabbar and Brown were in attendance to accept the award and share their thoughts on legacy.
Brown said, “So an old man must realize that his days are numbered and an old man should reach out to the young men and encourage them to take their legacy to another height. LeBron is another one of those individuals I admire tremendously.”
Michael Phelps was celebrated as the greatest Olympian of all time by fellow Olympians; gymnast Aly Raisman, swimmer Tom Dolanand track & field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Said Phelps of his historic year: “For me being able to have one more year where I came back and finished things exactly how I wanted, I know there are some people out there who know what that feels like, I feel like I’m on top of the world. I was able to get married this year, have my first child. I literally feel like the luckiest man in the world.”
Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor was presented the Symetra Rising Star award by Red Sox legend David Ortiz, as both joked on stage about Ortiz handing the torch over and life after retirement. Local Junior Olympian sisters Tai, Rainn and Brooke Sheppard from Brooklyn were honored as the SI Kids SportsKids of the Year with a heartfelt video tribute and special presentation by DJ Khaled.
Actor and comedian J.B. Smoove hosted the event, and acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar gave a surprise performance and toasted LeBron James. Others in attendance include Ray Lewis, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, SI Swimsuit models Ashley Graham, Hailey Clauson and Kate Bock, legendary rapper Nas and more.
The 2016 SI Sportsperson of the Year cover is attached here for your use. Please cite Sports Illustrated with the photo credit as Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated and link back to SI.com with any coverage.
The Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year event took place at Barclays Center and is presented by SI with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. The live show was co-produced by JASH. The event was sponsored by Symetra and Champagne Armand de Brignac is the official champagne partner.
ABOUT THE SPORTS ILLUSTRATED GROUP
Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated is the preeminent journalistic enterprise covering the world of sports both on and off the field. Debuting in 1954, SI has garnered worldwide acclaim for its award-winning storytelling born from an independent voice and for its unparalleled access to the most popular athletes and newsmakers from the sports world. This is the underpinning of the franchise, which now boasts a group of best-in-class consumer products and platforms reaching more than 73 million. The Sports Illustrated Group features the most-read sports magazine, a top 10 sports digital network and marquee franchises—Sports Illustrated Films, TheMMQB.com, the FanSided Network of sites and apps, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, Sportsperson of the Year, the SI Golf Group (Golf magazine, Golf.com, SI Golf +), Extra Mustard and Sports Illustrated Kids. For more information, visit SI.com and follow @SINow on Twitter, @SportsIllustrated on Instagram and Facebook and SI_mag on Snapchat.
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Time Inc. (NYSE: TIME) is a leading content company that engages over 150 million consumers every month through our portfolio of premium brands across platforms. By combining our distinctive content with our proprietary data and people-based targeting, we offer highly differentiated end-to-end solutions to marketers across the multimedia landscape. Our influential brands include People, Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Real Simple and Southern Living, as well as more than 50 diverse titles in the United Kingdom. Time Inc.has been extending the power of our brands through various acquisitions and investments, including Viant, an advertising technology firm with a specialized people-based marketing platform; The Foundry, Time Inc.’s creative lab and content studio; and the People Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). The company is also home to celebrated events, such as the Time 100, Fortune Most Powerful Women, People’s Sexiest Man Alive, Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, the Essence Festival and the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen