In recognition of the outsized impact Minnesota sports stars have had on the national conversation on issues of equity and social justice over the past year, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Barr are two of four finalists. of the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award 2022.
The other two nominees are Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals and Brad Stuver of Austin FC. The award celebrates athletes who use sport to impact local, national or global communities.
Nelson Cruz, a member of the Twins at the time, won the 2020 award.
Towns was recently named a finalist to Social Justice Champion Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by the NBA, while Barr was named the Vikings’ Walter Payton 2021 Man of the Year for his community efforts.
Barr is currently a free agent, but the longtime Vikings linebacker started the Elevate the Barr Foundation in 2016 with his mother Lori Barr to provide educational opportunities for single-parent families. They offer scholarships as well as emergency grants for single parent students. Raise the Barr participated in the Jeremiah program in Minneapolis and Barr also worked with the Minneapolis Juvenile Detention Center.
“The Minneapolis community really embraced me as one of their own, and that was just giving back,” Barr said last year. “That’s kind of what we’re trying to do: just show our gratitude for the last five, six, seven, eight years that I’ve been here. It’s heartwarming, man. It makes you want to keep doing good work, because you know it works.”
Towns, the Timberwolves All-Star forward, has been an advocate for equity in health care, especially when it comes to the care and treatment of COVID-19. His mother Jacqueline Cruz-Towns died after contracting coronavirus in April 2020; Cities worked with the NBA on public service announcements regarding COVID-19 vaccines and provided 100 COVID-19 test kits to 50 schools in Minnesota and New Jersey. The cities also donated $20,000 to the George Floyd Memorial Foundation in July 2021.
“It is an extremely humbling honor to be named a finalist for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award,” Towns said in a statement after receiving the nomination. “Ali was a true agent of change and a humanitarian in every sense of the word; a social force who fought for the marginalized and inspired much of my community activism. I am honored to be part of this list of ‘athletes who do impactful and inspiring work.’
The winner will be announced as part of the ESPYs on July 20.