Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown will be among three sports legends honored next month with Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.
Brown will join Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the Dec. 12 Sportsperson of the Year ceremony at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The trio is being recognized for their "athletic achievement and decades of leadership as social activists."
"I am deeply touched to be honored for a lifetime spent working to establish common ground and mutual respect for all perspectives and backgrounds," Brown said in a SI press release. "I hope that this tribute serves as a symbol of inspiration for all Americans to be champions of social justice. This is a proud moment for me, and I am thrilled to be recognized alongside two other transformative athletes with whom I share a long history of activism and friendship, and for whom I have great respect."
The Sports Illustrated Legacy Award was introduced in 2008, with Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of the Special Olympics, as the inaugural honoree. Earvin (Magic) Johnson was honored in 2014 and Jack Nicklaus received it last year in its first installment as the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.
"In 2016 we learned that the consequences of speaking out on hard issues were often painful ones, but also how deeply athletes can impact and advance the conversation on those same, hard issues," said Sports Illustrated Group editor in chief Chris Stone. "Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar all recognized, and acted on this in a far harder time in America. That was the example of their friend, Muhammad Ali, and the torch they've carried for the more than a half-century."
Brown made his mark on the field during nine memorable years with the Browns before establishing a strong legacy away from it. The three-time MVP led the league in rushing eight times and remains the only player in NFL history to average more than 100 yards per game over the entirety of his career.
Shortly after retiring in 1965, Brown founded the Black Economic Union, which promoted economic development in African American communities. Brown is the chairman of Amer-I-Can, which was founded in 1988 and, to this day, operates in eight states. As an actor, Brown starred in "100 Rifles," which featured one of the first-ever interracial couples in modern film. "Congratulations to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Bill Russell for their numerous athletic successes and more importantly, the leadership they all have displayed to make this world a much better place," said Lonnie Ali, Muhammad's wife, in a SI press release. "Particular recognition this year goes to Kareem for being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama and Jim for the new statue that sits outside of Cleveland Browns stadium that was dedicated to his achievements with the organization. In times of hardship and adversity, these three remarkable individuals continued to stand up as activists to pave the way for those that followed. I honor you for that and I know Muhammad certainly would be proud that you are receiving the award that bears his name."