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Duvernay-Tardif among five activist athletes named "Sportsperson of the Year" by SI


Laurent Duvernay-Tardif's busy 2020 has included a Super Bowl victory, working on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic and a return to school.

He can now add another accolade to his resume.

The 29-year-old Canadian offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs was one of five athletes recognized as "Sportsperson of the Year: The Activist Athlete" by Sports Illustrated on Sunday.

Duvernay-Tardif got the nod alongside teammate and Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, Breanna Stewart of the WNBA's Seattle Storm, and women's U.S. open tennis champion Naomi Osaka.

A native of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., Duvernay-Tardif chose to sit out the 2020 NFL season after volunteering in a long-term care facility in his home province at the height of the pandemic's first wave.

The Chiefs' starting right guard earned a medical degree from McGill University and has been working to fulfil his requirements to become a doctor in the off-season. 

"As athletes, we have the power to make a positive impact in our society," Duvernay-Tardif tweeted Sunday. "To be recognized for my involvement off the field by one of the biggest sport awards means everything to me."

Duvernay-Tardif, who was the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 campaign because of the novel coronavirus, announced in September he would spend the fall studying nutrition, biostatistics and epidemiology at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Cambridge, Mass.

The lineman added at the time he also planned to return to the long-term care home where he worked earlier this year.

"I dedicate this award to all the healthcare workers who have been making huge sacrifices in order to protect and care for others," Duvernay-Tardif, who won the Super Bowl in February, wrote in a follow-up tweet Sunday. "Thank you. The work isn't over."

Apart from their achievements on the field or court, James was honoured for helping to drive record election turnout in the United States, Stewart for her unwavering support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Mahomes for his work in the community and pushing the NFL on the issue of a player's right to protest, and Osaka for being a strong voice in the fight against social injustice.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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