Former Virginia football player Chris Long wins Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award

Former Cavalier and Super Bowl champion recognized for tremendous off-the-field efforts


Chris Long has pursued projects like the First Quarter for Literacy program and the Waterboys initiative in addition to playing professional football.   

Courtesy University of Virginia

Former Virginia defensive lineman Chris Long was recognized for his charitable work off the field Tuesday night. He received the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award from ESPN.

A prestigious achievement, the award honors an individual athlete “whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a measured positive impact on their community through sports.”

“Muhammed Ali’s most important and impactful fights were not with his fists,” Long said in his acceptance speech. “His fights were with his conviction, his bravery and his voice.”

Long has been actively involved in several initiatives that help address some of the major problems facing modern society.

The retired NFL player donated his entire salary in 2017 to support educational equality. Long then donated his first six player checks in 2018 to fund scholarships for students from the Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia to attend St. Anne’s-Belfield School — his high school alma mater in Charlottesville. 

Long has also led several programs that address system issues that affect that tens of thousands of people across the country and the world. His First Quarter for Literacy program has donated 75,000 brand new books to children in oftentimes neglected neighborhoods. On a global scale, his massive Waterboys initiative has built more than 60 wells in East Africa, helping more than 225,000 people obtain access to clean drinking water.

“Any athlete who is fighting for good and fighting for a cause is on my team, and I’m on their team,” Long said. “We’re teammates and we accept this together.”

Although Long has won two Super Bowls in the NFL and was a unanimous All-American in college, he is making as much of an impact outside of football as he did while he was playing.

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