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Lebron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and more Honored Sports Illustrated Celebration

Lebron James, Michael Phelps, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Bill Russell Honored At 2016 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson Of The Year Celebration

Jay Z, David Ortiz, Peyton Manning, Lonnie Ali, Kendrick Lamar, Francisco Lindor, Aly Raisman and Jackie Joyner-Kersee Part of the Star-Studded Celebration

BROOKLYN, N.Y., Dec. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Time Inc.’s (NYSE: TIME) Sports Illustrated honored LeBron James as the 2016 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year at a star-studded gala at Barclays Center in New York on Monday night. Grammy award-winning artist Jay Z paid tribute to the Cleveland Cavaliers star in a speech in which he recognized his transcendent year on and off the court.

James said: “This award is for my wife. This award is for my mother. This award is for my three kids back home … This award is for the great Muhammad Ali, for Bill Russell, for Jim Brown, for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar…. So as I stand up here, as the recipient of the 2016 Sportsperson of the Year, this isn’t about me – this is much bigger than me and I just want to say thank you to everyone.”

Jay Z on LeBron James: “LeBron James has made all of those around him better on and off the court. We acknowledge and recognize all he has done for the game. But, tonight we say thank you. Not just for your commitment to basketball, but for all you’ve done for the community. And thank you for how you’ve enriched the lives of all those around you. We messed around and got a triple double in real life.”

Select video from the evening for broadcast coverage of the SI Sportsperson of the Year celebration only (courtesy: Sports Illustrated), can be found here:

VOD highlights from the event will be published at and can be embedded for online use with proper attribution.

Lonnie Ali and Peyton Manning honored iconic athletes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Bill Russell with the SI Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. Both Abdul-Jabbar and Brown were in attendance to accept the award and share their thoughts on legacy.

Brown said, “So an old man must realize that his days are numbered and an old man should reach out to the young men and encourage them to take their legacy to another height. LeBron is another one of those individuals I admire tremendously.”

Michael Phelps was celebrated as the greatest Olympian of all time by fellow Olympians; gymnast Aly Raisman, swimmer Tom Dolan and track & field star Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Said Phelps of his historic year: “For me being able to have one more year where I came back and finished things exactly how I wanted, I know there are some people out there who know what that feels like, I feel like I’m on top of the world. I was able to get married this year, have my first child. I literally feel like the luckiest man in the world.”

Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor was presented the Symetra Rising Star award by Red Sox legend David Ortiz, as both joked on stage about Ortiz handing the torch over and life after retirement. Local Junior Olympian sisters Tai, Rainn and Brooke Sheppard from Brooklyn were honored as the SI Kids SportsKids of the Year with a heartfelt video tribute and special presentation by DJ Khaled.

Actor and comedian J.B. Smoove hosted the event, and acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar gave a surprise performance and toasted LeBron James. Others in attendance include Ray Lewis, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, SI Swimsuit models Ashley Graham, Hailey Clauson and Kate Bock, legendary rapper Nas and more.

The 2016 SI Sportsperson of the Year cover is attached here for your use. Please cite Sports Illustrated with the photo credit as Robert Beck/Sports Illustrated and link back to with any coverage.

The Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year event took place at Barclays Center and is presented by SI with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. The live show was co-produced by JASH. The event was sponsored by Symetra and Chagne Armand de Brignac is the official chagne partner. Click NEXT above or below for more pictures

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