“It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.”
– Evander Holyfield

Great athletes are celebrated for what they achieve on the court. But extraordinary athletes are remembered for what they do off the court. Those are the ones who lead with their hearts. Who dive in and get to work helping serve others. Not for the fame or glory, but out of simple acts that make the biggest impact. 

As we celebrate National Sports Day, let's take a look at some of the exceptional athletes in our community who are multiplying good by serving others. It's only fitting they are part of the largest and most prestigious celebration platform for service in America.



Billie Jean King - Tennis
Lifetime Achievement in Public Service

Billie Jean King is the founder of the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative and the co-founder of World TeamTennis. She has long been a champion for social change and equality. King created new inroads for men and women in sports and beyond during her legendary career and she continues to make her mark today.

King continues her life mission to help the underserved, most notably through her efforts to provide programming and funding for those infected, affected or at risk of HIV/AIDS through her work with the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF). A member of the organization’s Board of Trustees, King has helped the organization raise more than $225 million in support or worthy programs in 55 countries around the world.

Since founding the Women’s Sports Foundation in 1974, Billie Jean has led the organization in its mission to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $50 million in educational and cash grants to advance participation, research and leadership in sports and physical activity for girls and women.


Dawn Staley - Basketball
Outstanding Public Service in Professional Sports

On the basketball court and in her personal life, Coach Staley serves as leader to both her team and those she serves throughout her community and charitable work. As she said during her acceptance speech for the 2020 National Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service in Professional Sports "I don't believe service has to be a grand gesture, nor do I believe it has to be a big statement, but I do believe that it has to come from the heart,"

Her impact has been felt by many through the Dawn Staley Foundation, sponsoring after-school programs for middle school children living in Philadelphia and for her work with Innersole, a non profit dedicated to providing sneakers to children in need.


Larry Fitzgerald - Football
Outstanding Public Service in Professional Sports

Larry Fitzgerald has dedicated his life off the field to promoting reading proficiency and technology access for K-12 youth as cornerstones to success at school and in life, and to support efforts to prevent and cure breast cancer and support breast cancer survivors with the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund. Additionally, Fitzgerald has worked with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, including traveling to Malaysia to help provide hearing aids to adults and children in need.

"I've embraced service to others because I've seen firsthand the effect it can have on entire communities," Fitzgerald said. "Service is not only my responsibility; I view it as a privilege."

Laurie Hernandez - Gymnastics
Outstanding Public Service 25 Years or Younger

Laurie Hernandez has served as an role model for today’s youth. Her grit, determination and grace have inspired a generation of young women to reach for their dreams. After winning gold and silver at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Hernandez has gone on to work with youth in local communities across the United Stated helping provide sports equipement to schools in need. She has also partnered with the nonprofit, Cure Alzheimer's Fund to help raise much need funds to find a cure. The cause is near to her heart as her grandmother passed away from the disease.


Peyton Manning - Football
Outstanding Public Service 35 Years or Younger

In 1999, Payton Manning established the PeyBack Foundation with his wife Ashely to promote teh future success of disadvantaged youth. Through the creation of programs that provide leadership and growth, their organization provides numerious opportunities for children at riskand looks strongly upon abused and neglected children, Boys & Girls clubs, after-school programs, summer camps, and foster children. 

The foundation works with children and families of all backgrounds and cSince the begining, the foundation has been able to provide more than $15 million in grands and programs since its inception.


Shaquille O'Neal - Basketball
Outstanding Public Service in Professional Sports

NBA Hall of Famer and philanthropist Shaquille O’Neal has dedicated the last 25 years to helping the children of America. Dating back to his youth in Newark, Shaquille credits the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for teaching him how to become a team player, and ultimately, the leader he is today. As a national spokesperson for the organization, he has spearheaded long-standing events including Shaq-A-Claus, Shaqs-giving, and Toys for Tots. 

Additionally, Shaquille donated more than $1 million to improve technology centers within the Clubs and helped to create an online safety program for kids through Microsoft’s partnership with the organization.