As ESPN combines the 2020 ESPYS with the Sports Humanitarian Awards on Sunday night, the show will have strong Minnesota ties as three athletes with connections to the area have been nominated for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award.
Minnesota athletes Maya Moore (Lynx) and Nelson Cruz (Twins) are up for the award which is given to an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a measured positive impact on their community through sports per a press release by ESPN.
For Moore, that means walking away from her prolific WNBA career in her prime to bring attention to the case of Kenny Irons. Irons was falsely accused of robbery as a minor in 1993 and sentenced to 50 years in prison before Moore played a role in his reversal in March.
Meanwhile, Cruz has been working to make his hometown of Las Matas De Santa Cruz a better place. The Twins slugger is a fixture in the Dominican Republic town through his BoomStick23 program, building a new police station, and even showing up to help clean teeth during a dental clinic.
Former Timberwolves forward Kevin Love is also up for the award through his own battle with anxiety and depression. Love set up the Kevin Love Fund (KLF), to develop an education curriculum designed to destigmatize challenges with mental health and to model the presence of emotion as an important dimension of the human experience, with a goal of reaching millions of students.
New England Patriots defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty and WWE superstar Titus O'Neill are also up for the award, which will be presented on Sunday night.
The winner of the award will be able to direct a $100,000 grant from ESPN to the qualified charity related to the award-winning humanitarian efforts. The finalists will be able to direct a $25,000 grant to the charity related to their award-winning efforts.