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Volume 25 No. 26
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Watt, Altuve Honor Houston At SI Banquet; Beyonce Suprises Kaepernick

SI last night presented Texans DE J.J. WATT and Astros 2B JOSE ALTUVE with its ’17 Sportsperson of the Year award, with the star-studded gala returning to Barclays Center for a second consecutive year. The pair’s efforts in restoring hope to hurricane-battered southeast Texas, through extensive charitable works and the Astros’ first World Series title this fall, was documented in a film clip shown during the event narrated by PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH. “I don’t think I could accept this award without mentioning the 200,000 people who donated to the fund ... without mentioning all the firefighters and policemen, and all the people who got in their own boats and went out in the streets to help save people,” Watt said. “This award is about humans being good to help other humans, and I think it’s incredible.”

Kaepernick only briefly referenced the NFL and vowed to remain an advocate
SURPRISE APPEARANCE: Extending a ceremony theme of off-field exploits and civic activism, COLIN KAEPERNICK received the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, with the honor presented to him by an emotional BEYONCE as part of a surprise appearance. She said, “Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion, only to hope to change the world for the better. To change perception, to change the way we treat each other, especially people of color. We’re still waiting for the world to catch up.” Kaepernick in his well-received, five-minute remarks only briefly referenced the NFL and vowed to remain an advocate against racial injustice. “I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people,” he said. “Because if it were not for my love for the people I would have not protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today. With or without the NFL’s platform, I will continue to work for the people because my platform is the people.”

OTHER ATHLETES HONORED: Former MLBer CARLOS BELTRAN received a new Hope Award for his work repairing his native Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. He was presented the award by San Juan Mayor CARMEN YULIN CRUZ. Also honored last night were Lynx F MAYA MOORE, 76ers C JOEL EMBIID, youth star BUNCHIE YOUNG. The SI ceremony will be televised nationally for the first time on NBCSN on Friday, and on Univision on Saturday.