On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated announced that Jack Nicklaus would be the latest recipient of the prestigious Muhammad Ali Legacy award. The North Palm Beach resident is only the third person to ever be honored with the award, joining Special Olympics founder Eunice Shriver and former NBA player Magic Johnson.
The award recognizes the hall of fame golfer and his wife Barbara for all they have done in the health field, specifically children’s health. The Nicklaus’ created the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which provides pediatric care nationwide.
Over the past several years, the foundation has worked with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and has become the primary beneficiary of the Honda Classic held at PGA National. In March, the Miami Children’s Hospital was renamed the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in honor of Jack and Barbara’s contributions.
“Jack’s passion for excellence on the golf course is only surpassed his love and passion for children and their well-being,” Ali, 73, said in a statement. “For decades, he has used his celebrity to bring awareness and support for children’s health. I cannot think of a more deserving person for this special inaugural award than the Golden Bear.”
Nicklaus, who has 73 PGA Tour wins in his career, including a record 18 major championships, can add this award to a long list of accolades he has received both on and off the course.
In March, Jack received one of the highest honors a U.S. citizen could receive when he was awarded the Congressional Golf Medal. On the course, Nicklaus won the money title eight times, was named Player of the Year five times and was awared the Bobby Jones Award. In 2000, Nicklaus was awarded the Payne Stewart award and in 2008, the PGA Tour honored him with their lifetime achievement award.
“Jack is the ultimate ambassador for golf and the sporting world,” Sports Illustrated group editor Paul Fichtenbaum said. “From his play, which set the standard in golf for decades and is still held up as the benchmark today, to his successful business pursuits and tireless efforts to support a range of charitable causes, Jack is one of a kind.”
The Legacy award was renamed for the iconic former boxing champion during a ceremony this year at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville.
“There are very few in the sporting world who are more synonymous with the word ‘legacy’ than Muhammad Ali, so to have his name attached to the prestigious Legacy Award is so fitting,” Nicklaus said. “This is a marvelous way to honor his contributions past and present, and to ensure that generations going forward will have the opportunity to learn, respect and admire all Muhammad Ali has done for the sporting world.”