NBA superstar LeBron James has been listed twice on the 2020 Laureus World Sport Awards shortlists, in the Sportsman and Team of the Year categories, following a turbulent year in which elite athletes threw their weight behind social causes.
King James as he is fondly called, who has become a leading force against racial injustice and police brutality, helped his team the Los Angeles Lakers to their 17th NBA Championship, while personally winning his fourth NBA title and fourth Finals MVP award.
Lewis Hamilton was also featured as the Sportsman of the Year list, he got this nomination after winning his seventh Formula One world championship title, equalling the great Michael Schumacher’s record.
Earlier in the year, Hamilton stated he was “completely overcome with rage” after viewing George Floyd’s death when a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
As well as being the best racer in F1, and the only Black world champion in the history of the sports, Hamilton played a prominent role in the United Kingdom’s Black Lives Matter movement advocating for racial equality, and was later knighted in the UK’s New Year’s Honours List.
Naomi Osaka, who recently won her fourth grand slam at the Australian Open, also won her second US Open in 2020, and is shortlisted for the Sportswoman of the Year award.
She was only 22 years when she won the US Open, Osaka wore a face covering displaying the name of a different Black victim of alleged police or racist violence in the US — from Breonna Taylor in her first round-match against Misaki Doi to Tamir Rice in the final against Azarenka — before each match at the US Open.
“I just felt like it was important to hopefully use my platform for something good,” she said, speaking to CNN’s Don Riddell.
“While I’m here, while for some reason there’s a TV camera on me, I might as well use it to the best of my ability.”
According to CNN, Tadej Pogacar who became the youngest rider in a century to win the Tour de France was shortlisted in the world breakthrough category.
In his quest to become the first Slovenian to ever triumph in the epic three-week race, Pogacar overtook the leader, his compatriot Primoz Roglic, in the penultimate stage to claim the yellow jersey.
Another list is the category of World Comeback of the Year which featured Alex Smith, quarterback for the Washington Football Team, who returned to the field of play after a devastating leg injury led to 17 operations and 728 days on the sidelines.
Because of the disruption caused to major sporting events around the world by the coronavirus pandemic, the Laureus World Sports Awards will not be presented in one gala ceremony this year as its tradition, and winners will receive their awards individually in safe locations.
Since the year 2000, the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation has honoured inspirational sports men, women and teams each year.
Fondly called “The Oscars of Sport,” Laureus awards aim to “recognize the most memorable sports achievements and acknowledge the wider impact on society, made by athletes.”
Last year, for the first time, the World Sportsman of the Year Award was shared between Hamilton and Barcelona star Lionel Messi.