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Dieter Cantu Named Recipient of 2022 Reebok Human Rights Award

Texas-based activist, organizer focuses on juvenile justice reform, while aiming to help advance the mental health, physical wellness of young people
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BOSTON, Mass. – Reebok, the iconic and irreverent sports culture brand, announced last night that community organizer, activist and social entrepreneur Dieter Cantu has been named the recipient of the 2022 Reebok Human Rights Award, which, for the first time, honors extraordinary activists in the world of sports and athletics.

With a shift to a greater focus on the intersection of human rights and sport, Reebok has partnered with Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year Awards to celebrate Cantu alongside some of the world’s most decorated athletes. The 2022 Sportsperson of the Year Awards were presented last night at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco.

As the recipient of the 2022 Reebok Human Rights Award, Cantu will receive $50,000 to support his philanthropic work, as well as guidance and mentorship from Reebok and its involved partners, including Sports Illustrated, Alabama State University, the American Civil Liberties Union and RISE.

​An activist and organizer, Cantu is focused on juvenile justice reform, police accountability and bail reform. With his experiences as a youth in the juvenile system as a frame of reference, Cantu aims to reform the system to help advance the mental health and physical wellness of young people. Cantu works to establish library spaces, which increase literacy and introduce holistic health resources such as lounges, entertainment areas and sports training programs at juvenile facilities and halfway houses. In addition, he provides mentors, legal aid and food distribution to assist the community of young people as they transition back into society.

As a youth, Cantu was sentenced to serve ten years in juvenile detention after his first and only interaction with law enforcement. Without access to proper legal representation in court, he signed a plea bargain out of fear. He spent half a year in solitary confinement and experienced physical and verbal abuse as well as other forms of punishment. Through his challenges, Cantu discovered his passion to help incarcerated youth and to promote education and sports as a means to keep juveniles out of the prison system.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be recognized and I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to be recognized by such a prestigious brand,” Cantu said. “This award exemplifies that if we want to invest in the future, then we need to invest in our youth. The power is, and will always be, with the people. This award means that a child with a dream prevailed and was strong enough to defy the odds. When you lead with compassion, trust the process, and practice humility, you cannot be defeated.”

Upon his release, Cantu founded Position of Power Inc. where he served as liaison to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and other national non-profit organizations, developing and implementing comprehensive public policy platforms on proactive criminal justice strategies.

Since then, Cantu has helped enact meaningful local policy reforms that decrease incarceration levels and reinforce the incentive for community action.

Cantu is the founder of Cantu’s Books to Incarcerated Youth Project which has donated more than 5,000 books to troubled teens in halfway houses and juvenile facilities. The purpose of this program is to make varied books available for the youth housed at various Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) facilities. He has partnered with multiple universities across Texas to collect and distribute books, as well as created a mentorship and pen pal program consisting of members close in proximity to maximum security facilities. The goal is to use books to improve literacy and reading skills which will enable those incarcerated to further their education and steer them away from the prison system.

“For more than a decade, Dieter has worked to ensure equity, fairness and opportunities for all youth, but particularly those who come from marginalized communities,” said Reebok Vice President of Apparel Portia Blunt. “He has fought tirelessly to reform a criminal justice system that creates barriers for young people by providing important outlets like literacy and sports programs to help them while they are in the system and, importantly, when they are out so they can reach their full potential.”

The Reebok Human Rights Awards program, which originally ran from 1988-2007, was reinstated in 2021. The program has a legacy of nearly 90 recipients from 40 countries and highlights individuals doing impactful work that promotes human rights and fights injustice.

The program also provides funds to recipients so that them may continue in their vocation. Past recipients include Winona LaDuke (1988); Li Lui, Wang Dan, Chai Ling, and Wu’Er KaiXi (1989); Bryan Stevenson (1989); Van Jones (1998); and Vanita Gupta (2004).

Last year’s Reebok Human Rights Award recipients included LaTonya Myers, who dedicates herself to transforming the criminal justice system through her work at the Philadelphia Defenders Association and her own organization, Above All Odds; Eva Maria Lewis, the Executive Director of the Free Root Operation, a Chicago-based non-profit organization focusing on alleviating problems that result from poverty and impact well-being among Black and Brown communities; and Hernán Carvente-Martinez, the Founder and CEO of Healing Ninjas, a recently launched project that focuses on ensuring that mental health and healing become more visible topics.

The Reebok Human Rights Board of Advisors includes Amber Hikes, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer of the ACLU; Cynthia Roseberry, Deputy Director for Policy, Justice Division of the ACLU; Dr. Regina Moorer, Assistant Professor at ASU; Monique Holland, Deputy Director of Athletics and Chief of Staff of Athletics at Northwestern University; immigrant rights activist Sara Mora; the former National Director for the Youth and College Division at the NAACP, Tiffany Dena Loftin; Executive Director of the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation, Kari Uyehara; Zoe Henriquez, VP of Strategic Alliances & Development at RISE, a Reebok partner; VP, Media Brands at Authentic Brands Group, owner of Sports Illustrated and Reebok brands, Michael Sherman; and Reebok’s own, Chloe Mann, a member of the brand’s Human Rights Now team.

Earlier this week, Reebok unveiled its 2022 Human Rights Now! Collection, a long-term product platform designed to fuel the brand’s mission to inspire human rights and human movement. In conjunction with the release, Reebok is donating $600,000 to RISE, a national nonprofit that educates and empowers the sports community to eliminate discrimination and champion social justice. The collection is available to shop now.

About Reebok

Reebok is an iconic and irreverent sports culture brand with a rich and storied fitness heritage dating back to 1895. Founded on athletic footwear​ that changed the direction of sport, Reebok continues to introduce innovations that propel the industry forward. Today, Reebok sits at the intersection of active, lifestyle and sport, offering high quality and modern styles that are adaptable for every occasion. The brand strives to deliver every athlete, from professionals to enthusiasts, with the opportunity, products and inspiration to reach their full potential. Reebok currently operates in 80 countries with approximately 400 freestanding stores around the world.

For more information, visit or, for the latest news at Discover Reebok on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

About Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated is an unparalleled and influential leader recognized for shaping modern culture and uniting athletes, teams and fans worldwide. At the intersection of sports, lifestyle and entertainment, Sports Illustrated is a 360-degree enterprise that delivers immersive content, innovative digital experiences, unforgettable events, and original products. Its award-winning media arm brings powerful storytelling to life through probing profiles and up-to-date news on, across social media platforms and through the monthly print magazine. The most trusted name in sports transcends media through SI Tickets, a fan-first ticketing platform, SI Sportsbook, a digital sports betting platform, SI Studios, the brand’s home for film, TV, and long form audio adaptations of SI’s thought-provoking storytelling, and more. SI brings its unique and authentic perspective to marquee events and captivating brand activations including The Sportsperson of the Year Awards, “The Party”, SI Swimsuit Launch Weekend and the SI Circuit Series.

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About ACLU

For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has worked in courts, legislatures, and communities to protect the constitutional rights of all people. With a nationwide network of offices and millions of members and supporters, we take up the toughest civil liberties fights. Beyond one person, party, or side — we the people dare to create a more perfect union. Learn more at

About Alabama State University

Founded in 1867, Alabama State University is a comprehensive, regional institution offering students from across the nation and around the globe a world-class education. ASU’s learning experiences are holistic and are designed to develop intellectual, as well as social, moral, cultural and ethical values. ASU graduates are equipped with the skills, insights, attitudes and practical experiences that will enable them to become well-rounded, contributing citizens, fully qualified to take their places in their chosen professions and in service to humanity.Over the past 15 years, ASU has experienced tremendous growth, both physically and academically. State-of-the-art academic facilities now grace the 395-acre campus. High-demand programs have been established and cutting-edge research is being conducted by ASU faculty and students. With a focus on a global initiative, the campus has a more diverse population while maintaining its proud heritage as one of the nation’s leading Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs). We offer the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science, as well as master’s and educational specialist degrees.

The University also offers the Ph.D. in microbiology, the Ed.D. and the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy and Law, the Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy and the Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics. For more information about Alabama State University, visit

About Authentic Brands Group

Authentic Brands Group (Authentic) is a global brand development, marketing and entertainment platform, which owns a portfolio of more than 40 iconic and world-renowned Lifestyle, Entertainment and Media brands. Headquartered in New York City, with offices around the world, Authentic connects strong brands with best-in-class partners and a global network of operators, distributors and retailers to build long-term value in the marketplace. Its brands have an expansive retail footprint, including more than 9,100-plus freestanding stores and shop-in-shops in more than 150 countries and generate approximately $24 billion in global annual retail sales.

Authentic is committed to transforming brands by delivering powerful storytelling, compelling content, innovative business models and immersive experiences. It creates and activates original marketing strategies to drive the success of its brands across all consumer touchpoints, platforms and emerging media. Authentic’s brand portfolio includes Marilyn Monroe®, Elvis Presley®, Muhammad Ali®, Shaquille O’Neal®, David Beckham®, Dr. J®, Greg Norman®, Neil Lane®, Thalia®, Sports Illustrated®, Reebok®, Eddie Bauer®, Spyder®, Volcom®, Airwalk®, Nautica®, Izod®, Brooks Brothers®, Barneys New York®, Judith Leiber®, Ted Baker®, Hervé Léger®, Frye®, Juicy Couture®, Vince Camuto®, Lucky Brand®, Aéropostale®, Forever 21®, Nine West®, Jones New York®, Tretorn®, Prince®, Van Heusen®, Arrow®, Hickey Freeman®, Hart Schaffner Marx® and Thomasville®.

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