Behind The ScenesESPN CitizenshipESPYsGiving BackSports Humanitarian Awards

” . . . I am truly blessed and honored to celebrate and recognize those athletes who have given of themselves to inspire, motivate and empower.”

Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Ciara looks forward to hosting the Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards on Tuesday, July 9

EDITOR’S NOTE: The fifth annual Sports Humanitarian of the Year Awards, presented by ESPN and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb, will celebrate and honor leagues, teams, individuals and members of the sporting community that are using the power of sport to make a positive impact on society. The sports industry-wide event will be held on Tuesday, July 9 – a day before The ESPYS – at L.A. LIVE’s The Novo. Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Ciara will host the show for the very first time. Highlights of the evening will be showcased during a one-hour program on ESPN, Thursday, July 18, at 7 p.m. ET. She answered some questions in advance of the event for Front Row:

What excites you about the opportunity to host the Humanitarian Awards for the first time?
We are all given gifts in life. Those gifts are presented to us in many different ways. Some easily recognizable, and some disguised as challenges and moments to be overcome. It is what we choose to do with what we are given that is the most meaningful. These gifts have the opportunity to provide tremendous humanitarian impact – and I am truly blessed and honored to celebrate and recognize those athletes who have given of themselves to inspire, motivate and empower.

Why is it important for athletes, sports leagues and teams to use their platform to make a positive difference in the world?
I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world and there is one thing consistent in every country, every city and every neighborhood – that is sports. Sports is a common thread that brings people together to compete and perform, to overcome, to challenge, to grind and to celebrate. There are millions of eyes watching – looking for inspiration, role models, and to make a difference in themselves, with their family, in their community, and in the world. We all face challenges in our lives that require creativity, imagination, determination, and grit – and it’s these athletes, teams, and leagues that help to give us hope and inspiration to make a difference.

The Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award is new to the Humanitarian Awards this year. What message do you share with young people today about how they can make a difference in the world?
Dream big. And believe – that anything is possible. All it takes is one person to believe and that person is you. Seek out opportunities to expand your education. Knowledge will lead you on your way in life and help you succeed in whatever you choose to do. You are tomorrow’s leaders. Why not you?

You and your husband, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, have participated in previous ESPYS weeks. What have your experiences been like?
The ESPYS are always a special time. It’s fun to get dressed up and celebrate not only my husband, who works so hard on and off the field, but also the entire sports community. It always feels like one big family when we are there.

What ESPN shows do you watch and who are your favorite commentators?
I love watching SportsCenter, especially during the football season. Some of my other favorite shows are First Take and Sunday NFL Countdown. Some of my favorite commentators are Hannah Storm, Holly Rowe, Stephen A. Smith and Scott Van Pelt.

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