When looking back on this year, 2016, trying to identify and rank the year's greatest sports moments, and those who created them, the death of boxing great, Muhammad Ali, must be noted because of how it reminded us all of the greatness of this man, in and out of the ring. Ali's exploits set the bar high for all athletes who have come after him.
LeBron James is now being heralded for helping bring a championship to Cleveland-the first since 1964-his philanthropy and his endeavors in the entertainment industry.
James' appearance, alongside his NBA contemporaries Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, surprisingly opened this year's ESPY Awards, televised in July. They were afforded the opportunity at that moment to speak out against injustice and hatred, to carry on the legacy of Ali.
"Let's use this moment as a call to action to all professional athletes to educate ourselves, explore these issues, speak up, use our influence and renounce all violence, and most importantly, go back to our communities, invest our time, our resources, help rebuild them, help strengthen them, help change them," said James. "We all have to do better."
Although quarterback Colin Kaepernick's skills, or abilities to succeed, have diminished, he was able to make championship-size headlines by not standing during the playing of the national anthem before his team's games this season, also in support of those victimized by injustice, which brought him much acclaim.
Unfortunately, admitting that he didn't vote in November's presidential election, and his reasons for not doing so, somewhat discredit his position as a civil rights leader.
Where Kaepernick caused a divide, swimmer Simone Manuel from Sugar Land, Texas, united Americans, winning two gold and two silver medals in the 2016 Olympic Games held this summer in Rio de Janeiro. Manuel, 20, earned gold in the 100-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter medley and silver in the 50-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter freestyle, becoming the first African-American female to do so.
Manuel is enrolled in Stanford University and is a member of the swim team.
Women named Simone from Texas reigned in this year's Olympics, as gymnast Simone Biles also captured golds.
Biles, only 19, from Spring, Texas, left Rio with a record-tying four gold medals and one bronze for her U.S. women's team. She's opted out of her verbal commitment to compete collegiately at UCLA, turning professional to capitalize on the opportunities afforded an Olympic champion.