Cubs' Anthony Rizzo wins 2017 Roberto Clemente Award

HOUSTON -- An annual tradition for Major League Baseball is announcing the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award winner prior to a World Series game. It happened Friday in front of Game 3, as commissioner Rob Manfred along with Vera Clemente -- wife of the late, great Hall of Famer Clemente and also MLB's Goodwill Ambassador -- made the announcement. The 2017 Roberto Clemente Award winner is Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

The award is given every season to the player "who best represents the game of Baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field."

"Anthony and his Foundation have had a positive impact on a cause that is all too familiar to our society," said Commissioner Manfred. "Anthony's status as one of Baseball's young stars combined with his own inspiring fight against cancer has given children and their families the hope and support they need. Major League Baseball is proud to present this prestigious honor to Anthony, who is a great representative of our game and the humanitarian legacy of Roberto Clemente."

Clemente tragically passed away in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972 at age 38 while attempting to get Earthquake relief aid to Nicaragua. The award was originally named the Commissioner's Award, but was renamed in Clemente's honor after his death.

"I am honored to welcome Anthony to the family of Roberto Clemente Award winners," Vera Clemente said. "As a cancer survivor, his story is powerful and his efforts with children and families in his home communities of Chicago and South Florida help spread positivity and inspiration to those who need it most. Roberto loved putting smiles on the faces of every child he met, and what Anthony continues to do is very much in that same spirit."  

Here's Rizzo's trophy. 

Rizzo, 28, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2008. He went through chemotherapy for six months -- during which time his grandmother was battling breast cancer. In 2012, Rizzo formed the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation. The organization has raised more than $4 million for the Lurie Chicago Children's hospital. Rizzo actively helps children with cancer and has been known to send Cubs gear and even tickets to those who have dealt with problems, help or otherwise. Here's an example from last year when Rizzo had sent a letter to a child battling leukemia that he never intended to see the light of day -- but the family posted it on social media to thank him. 

"Mr. Clemente was a true hero who dedicated his time to helping others," Rizzo said. "He set the bar high for what an athlete should be both on and off the field. To be named the Roberto Clemente Award recipient is truly an honor and means more to me and my family than I could ever express. As a cancer survivor, I know the challenges families face, watching loved ones fight this disease. I want to give them hope there is life after cancer. I encourage families to continue to 'Stay Strong and Dream Big.'"  

Three past winners are here in uniform for the World Series. Clayton Kershaw won in 2012, Carlos Beltran won in 2013 and Curtis Granderson took the honor last year. Other recent winners are Andrew McCutchen, Jimmy Rollins, Paul Konerko, David Ortiz and Tim Wakefield

Rizzo adds his name to the list of men who all deserve our utmost respect. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered the last six World Series beginning with the epic 2011 Fall Classic. The former Indiana University... Full Bio

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