Canadian OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif named ESPN’s Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian of the Year

Photo courtesy: Matt Starkey/Kansas City Chiefs

An amazing year for Canadian offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has gotten all the more remarkable.

The medical doctor and NFL player has been named ESPN’s Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian of the Year after opting out of the 2020 NFL season to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duvernay-Tardif was named a finalist for the award last month. His fellow nominees included first baseman Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs, Layshia Clarendon of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, and WWE Global Ambassador Titus O’Neil.

The native of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que. won Super Bowl LIV in February 2020 as Kansas City’s starting right guard. The ongoing pandemic broke out soon after, which brought the practicing medical doctor to the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

He opted out of the 2020 NFL season back in July to dedicate his time to his patients. His team reached the Super Bowl again in his absence, falling to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Duvernay-Tardif has been recognized several times this year for his tremendous work and personal sacrifice. He was a co-recipient of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete and his lab coat is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In addition to work as an orderly in a long-term care facility in Quebec, Duvernay-Tardif served on the NFLPA’s COVID-19 task force in order to ensure a safe return to play for his fellow players and launched the Laurent Duvernay-Tardif Foundation with his longtime girlfriend, Florence, to ensure both physical activity and creativity are a part of a child’s development and educational success.

According to the nomination announcement, Duvernay-Tardif’s “conviction to combat a virus the world knew very little about at the onset of the pandemic risked his own personal health and football career.”

Past winners of the award include Nelson Cruz of the Minnesota Twins, NFL defensive lineman Chris Long, Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames, and NBA star Kevin Durant.