Sports Illustrated's Sportsperson of the Year award show on Tuesday honored co-winners J.J. Watt and Jose Altuve, but they weren't the only ones honored at Barclays Center. The night featured a surprise presenter for the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award: Beyonce, who presented the award to Colin Kaepernick after being introduced herself by Trevor Noah as a huge fan of the former NFL quarterback.
Kaepernick, who is not currently playing in the NFL after opting out of his contract with the 49ers in March, started a wave of protests in the NFL from players across the league when he chose to sit, then kneel for the national anthem before games. His cause was to protest police brutality, a cause that Beyonce has been outspoken about as well. She performed at halftime of Super Bowl XLVII -- a game that Kaepernick himself happened to be playing in -- and her return to the Super Bowl stage at Super Bowl 50 alongside Coldplay and Bruno Mars raised eyebrows for her performance of "Formation" -- an anthem closely associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
"Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion, only hope to change the world for the better," Beyonce said. "To change perception, to change the way we treat each other, especially people of color. We're still waiting for the world to catch up."
Kaepernick was grateful for the award, and the introduction. "I don't know if I could ask for a better introduction than from
[Daily Show host] Trevor [Noah] and obviously from Beyonce herself," he said. "I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people. Because if it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today. With or without the NFL's platform, I will continue to work for the people because my platform is the people."
Kaepernick takes his charity work very seriously. He spent Thanksgiving at an "Un-Thanksgiving" protest on Alcatraz, and he holds a "Know Your Rights" camp for underprivileged children. He also pledged to donate $1 million to charities in 2016.
Kaepernick was on the cover of GQ's Man of the Year issue as well. This award is another way he's getting recognition, despite not being on the field. for allegedly colluding against him is ongoing, but he doesn't seem like he's going to stop working off the field either.