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Nelson Cruz recognized for humanitarian efforts

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Three of the five finalists for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award have strong Minnesota connections

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

The Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award is given to an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a measured positive impact on their community through sports.

Sounds like something that fits Nelson Cruz to a “T” In fact, here is the press release write up for why he was nominated—they can say it more eloquently and succinctly than I can

Six-time MLB All-Star Nelson Cruz has completely transformed the safety and welfare of his hometown (Las Matas De Santa Cruz) in the Dominican Republic. Thanks to Cruz, the town has a fire engine and an ambulance to treat and transport people to the hospital, which is nearly one hour away. He built a new police station to replace the plywood shack structure and donated a motorcycle for the police officers, who previously had to walk. Annually, Cruz brings dentists and optometrists to his hometown’s local clinic to provide checkups, medicine and eyewear. His health event with volunteer doctors, and donated equipment and medicine, enabled more than 1,200 people to be evaluated and treated. He has purchased wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and canes for elderly and disabled residents. Cruz’s Boomstick23 Foundation also has laid the groundwork for a new education and technical center to help young people learn how to advance their employability by learning trades such as carpentry or electrical, and how to better use farmland to produce crops. Additionally, his Healing Venezuela initiative helps 2,000 Venezuelan newborns annually receive life-sustaining nourishment during their first year (a 400% increase since Cruz became involved).

In addition to his long-standing support for his hometown, Cruz has been involved in covid-19 relief as well, a fact I accidently discovered through this tweet—but was not surprised in the least by.

For the award, which is part of the ESPY award show put on by ESPN, the description continues “the candidate must embrace the core principles that Muhammad Ali embodied so well, including confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and respect.”

ESPN is putting some money up as well. As a finalist, Cruz is guaranteed at least $25,000 in a grant to direct to a charity related to his efforts. For whoever wins the award, the amount jumps to $100,000.

Cruz is not the only finalist with a Minnesota connection. Both the NBA and WBNA representatives have played in the Twins Cities. Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers spent the first six seasons of his career with the Timberwolves. He is nominated for his work in mental health through the Kevin Love Foundation. Maya Moore, the Lynx star, represents the WNBA. She was nominated for her work in criminal justice, specifically the case of Jonathan Irons.

The other finalists are Titus O’Neil of the WWE, and the twins Jason and Devin McCourty of the NFL’s New England Patriots.

If you want to watch the award show, it will air on ESPN (obviously) at 8pm central, on June 21st.