Prior to the ceremony, Sports Illustrated writer Michael Rosenberg praised Kaepernick for making "his truth known" with his controversial national anthem protests. Explaining the award, Rosenberg wrote, "Each year, SI and the Ali family honor a figure who embodies the ideals of sportsmanship, leadership and philanthropy and has used sports as a platform for changing the world."
This sentiment was reflected in the short introductory speech given by Beyoncé, who said the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback "took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion, only hope to change the world for the better."
“With or without the NFL’s platform, I will continue to work for the people, because my platform is the people,” Kaepernick said.
In March, Lahren was fired from The Blaze, the news outlet where she gained a following for, among other things, speaking about Kaepernick. After settling a legal dispute with her formal employer, she went to work for Fox News.