Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is the 2017 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award, baseball’s highest honor for sportsmanship and community service. Rizzo won the award for his efforts to raise money and help families whose are battling cancer.
Rizzo said that he was “humbled” to win the award, named after the Hall-of-Fame Pirates outfielder. He also added:
"To win this is amazing," Rizzo said. "That's the impact we want to make. A lot of organizations do amazing work, and we want to impact families directly, and this foundation, that's what the staple is. It's insane over the last few years how many people have come up to me and said how we've helped someone's friend of a friend of a friend, and it gets back to me. To touch lives like that, it's something you can't explain.”
Rizzo was a minor leaguer in the Red Sox organization in 2008 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Since beating that disease he has spent countless hours and millions of dollars helping others with cancer, especially children. In 2017 alone, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation has donated more than $4 million to help families touched by cancer.
You also know that Rizzo doesn’t just raise and donate money. He also donates his time, spending hours touring hospitals and trying to give hope to those fighting a terrible battle. He visits local hospitals at least once a month and stays close to many of the families that he meets there. Just this week, Rizzo tweeted out this:
Heartbroken. We lost an incredible girl this morning. Mia you were a warrior until the end. You will be missed but never forgotten. pic.twitter.com/gaOfRly9Xh— Anthony Rizzo (@ARizzo44) October 25, 2017
Rizzo’s altruistic drive dates back to his own battle with cancer, and especially the way it affected his family. As he said in the mlb.com article linked to above:
I keep doing it because I remember when I was sick, and seeing my parents suffer way more than I did. I saw the looks on their faces. I just wanted to make sure they were OK. When I see the kids [at the hospitals], I tell them all the time to be strong for their families.
Rizzo is the third Cubs player to win the Roberto Clemente Award. Rick Sutcliffe won the award in 1987 and Sammy Sosa won it in 1998.
Congratulations to Rizzo and I can’t think of a better choice for the award. He’s a role model for everyone, on and off the field.