January 28, 2021 – The Los Angeles Sports Council announced today the list of the area’s top professional athletes, coaches, managers and sports executives that will be honored at the 16th-annual LA Sports Awards show in March.
The LA Sports Awards annually honors those that have made great impact or contribution to one of the nation’s most sports-dense regions. Honorees are selected by the Los Angeles Sports Council’s board of directors based on merit, achievement and overall impact across the global sports landscape.
The 2020 Honorees Are:
Sportspersons of the Year:
Mookie Betts (Dodgers)
LeBron James (Lakers)
Nneka Ogwumike (Sparks)
Coach of the Year: Dave Roberts (Dodgers)
Sports Executive of the Year: Jeanie Buss (Lakers)
Community Athlete: Andrew Whitworth (Rams)
Lifetime Achievement Award: Rafer Johnson
The annual star-studded awards show will be a virtual event, hosted by Allie Clifton & John Hartung and will be televised Spectrum SportsNet and select digital platforms. The event will be accompanied by an online silent auction, with proceeds benefiting the Los Angeles Sports Council’s most important program: Ready, Set, Gold!, a community health, fitness and social and emotional learning initiative that promotes healthy and active lifestyles to children.
SPORTSPERSONS OF THE YEAR
Sharing the honor as 2020 Sportspersons of the Year are Mookie Betts (Dodgers), LeBron James (Lakers) and Nneka Ogwumike (Sparks).
In his first season with the Dodgers, Mookie Betts quickly became one of the team’s most influential players and brightest stars. His leadership and performance are widely credited as key ingredients to the Dodgers’ winning formula, which brought Los Angeles its first World Series championship since 1988. Betts’ performance in the outfield earned him his fifth consecutive Gold Glove Award, and his 16 home runs and .292 batting average were more than enough to earn him his fifth career Silver Slugger Award.
One of the greatest players in the history of basketball, Lakers star forward LeBron James showed remarkable leadership on and off the court in 2020. In his second season with the Lakers, James led the franchise to its 17th NBA title, adding a fourth NBA championship and fourth Finals MVP Award to his career resume. Touted as being one of the most powerful voices in American professional sports, James used his influence for good, advocating for social justice and equality throughout the team’s championship run.
Los Angeles Sparks Forward Nneka Ogwumike is regarded as one of the most powerful catalysts for change in the WNBA. While still delivering a world class performance on the court, Ogwumike is now serving her second three-year term as President of the WNBA Players Association. In 2020, she spearheaded a joint movement between the WNBA and WNBAPA which brought social justice and equality issues to the forefront, a movement that was recognized and supported by some of the world’s top athletes across all sports, earning her the WNBA’s Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award for a second consecutive year.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has been selected as the 2020 Coach of the Year after leading the Dodgers to the club’s first World Series championship in 32 years. The 2020 World Series title is the culmination of the years of work Roberts has dedicated to the club. Since taking over as manager in 2016, the Dodgers have posted a .614 winning percentage, earned postseason berths all five years, and have made appearances in three of the last four World Series (2020, 2018, 2017). The former Dodgers outfielder and Major League veteran was named MLB Manager of the Year in his rookie season at the helm of the Dodgers (2016).
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR
Lakers Controlling Owner and President Jeanie Buss is the 2020 Executive of the Year. Buss took control of the Lakers in 2017 and became the first female owner in NBA history to guide her team to a world championship when the Lakers won the title in 2020. Renowned as ”NBA royalty” by commissioner Adam Silver, Buss has followed in her father’s footsteps in leading the Lakers to the pinnacle of the sport and earning the LA Sports Awards Executive of the Year, the same accolade earned by the late Dr. Jerry Buss in 2009.
In recognition of his outstanding service in the community, Andrew Whitworth of the Rams is the 2020 Community Athlete. The 15-year NFL veteran has demonstrated leadership on and off the field, offering his support to a variety of community organizations and causes throughout the year. His community involvement included matching teammates’ donations to the team’s social justice fund which resulted in more than $750,000 being awarded to social justice non-profits across the greater Los Angeles region. Whitworth’s personal donations in 2020 totaled more than $300,000 to organizations throughout greater Los Angeles. Whitworth’s efforts have left an enduring impression on the community surrounding the Rams, and he hopes to continue his efforts as well as his career in Los Angeles. Whitworth is also the Rams’ nominee for the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, presented to a player in recognition of his outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on it.
Known for his iconic sporting achievements as much as his social activism and philanthropy, the Los Angeles Sports Foundation will honor the late Rafer Johnson with the Lifetime Achievement Award. One of the most celebrated track and field athletes of his era, Johnson utilized his accomplishments in athletics as a platform for social justice and social change. While enrolled at UCLA, Johnson became the second Black student body president in the school’s history, and the first Black man to serve as a flag bearer for the U.S. Olympic team. In 1960, Johnson won the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon, was honored as the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States, broke the decathlon world record and was recognized by the Associated Press as its Athlete of the Year. He went on to co-found the Southern California chapter of the Special Olympics and is remembered by all who knew him as a remarkable human whose legacy of civil service will endure.
For more information on the LA Sports Awards, visit www.sportsawards.givesmart.com.