Colin Kaepernick accepted Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award Tuesday night in New York City promising to work for the people “with or without the NFL’s platform.”
Beyonce was brought on stage by "The Daily Show" host Trevor Noah as a surprise presenter. She praised Kaepernick for taking “action with no fear of consequence or repercussion, only hope to change the world for the better.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, last year’s Ali Award winner, also praised Kaepernick. During a video tribute, Abdul-Jabbar noted how Kaepernick “fully embraced the risk to his career in order to remind Americans of the systemic racism that was denying African-Americans their opportunities to equal education, jobs, health and even their lives.”
Kaepernick took to the stage and praised Ali as a fighter for social justice and a mentor.
"The footprints he leaves are large," Kaepernick said, "and his life is and has been a multitextured tapestry that is rich in love, wisdom, life lessons and human kindness."
This was the second time in three days the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback has spoken in public. He was honored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California with the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award on Sunday night. He was also named Citizen of the Year by GQ Magazine.
Kaepernick has kept a low public profile since filing a collusion lawsuit against the NFL. He has yet to publicly comment on the NFL’s announcement that it was committing $90 million over the next seven years to social justice causes, a move many see as a response to the anthem protests Kaepernick helped start. Kaepernick began taking a knee prior to NFL preseason games in 2016 as a form of protest against the treatment of minorities, especially by police.
He has yet to be signed by a NFL team since being waived by the 49ers before the 2017 season.