Spike TV recently announced that Floyd Mayweather will receive their TBE (The Best Ever) award at the Guys’ Choice 2015 award show. But he’s not “The Best Ever.” He might be an undefeated boxer and remarkable athlete, but his track record of domestic violence is not the mark of a truly impressive person.
Instead, take a look at these five athletes who actually should be contenders for The Best Ever. These men and women have made it clear how they feel about violence and discrimination against women. (SPOILER: they feel it’s unacceptable.) They shift thinking, support advocacy and services, and spark awareness and action. They use their influential positions as professional athletes and role models to show that respect and accountability are required on and off the field (ring, court, pitch, etc.!).
Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson is known for being one of the good guys in the NFL. His weekly visits to the Seattle Children’s Hospital inspired some of his teammates to do the same, and now “Blue Tuesdays” have become a team tradition.
Wilson created the Why Not You foundation in order to raise funds and awareness for causes close to his heart. The first initiative? A call to support survivors of domestic violence.
He also wrote openly in the Player’s Tribune about wanting to take a stand against domestic violence. He said: “I’ve been silent on the issue for too long, falling back on the ‘I can’t speak to someone else’s personal life’ excuse.” Wilson has proved he’s ready to use his status as a role model to have some difficult—and likely game-changing—conversations.
Jillian Loyden traveled to the London 2012 Olympic Games as part of Team USA’s gold-medal-winning soccer team just months after her sister, Britton, was murdered. Britton’s fiance has been charged with the crime.
In honor of her sister, Loyden now works to empower young people to overcome abuse and teach them about “the dangers of domestic violence, the warning signs, and different ways to navigate conflict, with an overarching theme of self-worth.”
Loyden even spoke out when her teammate faced allegations of domestic violence. “U.S. Soccer needs to send the right message,” she wrote in USA Today. “They need to communicate that domestic violence is never OK and that it will not be tolerated.”
Jeb Brovsky is a fullback for New York City Football club. While playing at Notre Dame, Brovsky founded Peace Pandemic, a nonprofit that teaches soccer and nonviolence to under-privileged youth, with a focus on ending violence against women.
Brovsky gets that ending violence and discrimination is about transforming gender roles. “‘It’s about the way we raise young boys in society,” he told the Bleacher Report. “Let’s raise better men, and for the girls, let’s teach them that they can actually be something in life.'”
Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay says football kept him on the right path after terrible tragedy: when he was just eight years old, his stepfather shot and killed his mother.
He regularly visits with survivors of domestic abuse at the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh and is the face of HopeLine, a Verizon initiative to collect old cell phones for survivors and raise money for domestic violence organizations.
In the aftermath of the release of the Ray Rice video, Gay was outspoken in reminding the public—and the NFL—that the emphasis should be on helping survivors and providing resources that help foster healthy relationships.
During his playing career Joe Torre was a nine-time MLB All-Star and the 1971 National League MVP. As a manager he led the Yankees to win four World Series championships. Now, as an MLB executive, Torre and his colleagues are dedicated to creating a comprehensive domestic violence and sexual assault policy that doesn’t just respond to the problems but drives the culture change needed to prevent them.
In light of his own childhood experience with domestic violence, Torre created the Joe Torre Safe At Home Foundation, an organization that supports children facing violence at home and uses education to “end the cycle of domestic violence and save lives.”
Joe Torre’s record on and off the field makes him a true MLB All-Star.
Nominate an athlete who you think is really The Best Ever! Tweet @Breakthrough with your pick!
Photo credit: Abigail Keenan