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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

Mark Giordano wins 2017 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award

Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano has been honoured many times for his leadership and his dedication to his community. Earlier this evening in Los Angeles, Giordano received perhaps his most high-profile honour to date.

Giordano was named this year’s recipient of the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at ESPN’s annual Sports Humanitarian Awards ceremony, held in conjunction with the annual ESPY Awards.

Giordano, 33, is the third recipient of the award – which was renamed in honour of Ali earlier this year. The previous two winners were Tamika Catchings of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever (in 2015) and Chris Paul of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers (in 2016). PGA golfer Ernie Els, Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald and New York Mets’ Curtis Granderson were the other finalists for this year’s award.

From the nomination release:

Undrafted but now at the forefront of the Calgary Flames, Giordano never loses sight of what got him to the NHL, and consistently exhibits conviction, integrity and bravery in his long-history of giving back to the community. His 5 for 5 initiative provided the funding to build five homes with Habitat for Humanity in Ethiopia, India, Kenya, the Philippines and the Calgary area. In collaboration with the Calgary Board of Education, Mark and Lauren created Team Giordano in 2014. Funded by the Giordanos, the Calgary Italian Open and the Flames Foundation, and in partnership with Pizza 73, ATB Financial and Cardel Homes, the program has donated $300,000 to four high-needs Calgary schools and has impacted the lives of 1,900 students. The program not only provides resources, including computers, supplies and their own “Gio Journals” to track students’ progress, but promotes physical fitness, academics, and the positive behaviors that lead to success in life. And the program is working—with one school reporting that 88% of students are reading at grade level thanks to the literacy resources provided courtesy of Team Giordano. Additionally, he stands behind other important community causes, including stamping out discrimination based on sexual orientation and support of mental health awareness.

Team Giordano received $25,000 from ESPN for the nomination and will receive an additional $75,000 because of the award win.

Giordano has previously been honoured by the Flames with the J.R. McCaig Award in 2012 and the Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award in 2016, and also won the league-wide NHL Foundation Player Award in 2015-16 for his charitable work. He and his wife, Lauren, were the 2016 recipients of the Lighthouse Award, which is presented annually to an organization or program for its contributions to the Calgary Board of Education, its schools and its programs. He was also the team’s nominee this past season for the King Clancy Award, for humanitarian work, and a league finalist for the Mark Messier Leadership Award.