New York, NY – December 15, 2021 – In the Sportsperson of the Year Issue, on sale tomorrow, Sports Illustrated celebrates the year’s best athletes, moments, photos, media and plays. Sportsperson of the Year Tom Brady tells senior writer Jon Wertheim how he’s forged his career longevity and what has changed since he last won the Sportsperson of the Year award in 2005. Muhammad Ali Legacy Award winner Billie Jean King, whose sportsmanship has also spanned decades, is profiled in the issue, along with Athletes of the Year Suni Lee and Caeleb Dressel and Breakthrough Athlete of the Year LaMelo Ball.
On The Cover
According to Jon Wertheim, time is a construct for Tom Brady, measurable in ways other than revolutions around the sun. In his 22nd NFL season, he started his 10th Super Bowl and collected his seventh ring while also being named Super Bowl MVP for the fifth time. At age 44, he leads the league in touchdown passes. We know how statistically outlying his longevity is, but there is much more to the story of this timeless Sportsperson of the Year, only the third athlete to be honored by SI more than once.
Sportsperson of the Year Issue Features
- Muhammad Ali Legacy Award, Bille Jean King: In the five decades since she took a stand against the pay disparity between men and women in tennis – and won – the tennis trailblazer and activist has been an unflinching champion for equality across society, by Jenny Vrentas.
- Athletes of the Year: Stefanie Apstein details Suni Lee raising the bar for Team USA, and Pat Forde describes Caeleb Dressel exceeding expectations in Tokyo. According to Chris Mannix, breakthrough Athlete of the Year LaMelo Ball is transforming the previously faceless Hornets into a hot ticket.
- The Year in Pictures: Significant photojournalism all shot on assignment for SI; several all-time greats augmented their legacies in 2021, while a new crop of rising stars wrote their first words in the history books.
Also in this issue:
- Novak Djokovic is the most controversial man in tennis, soon to be the most accomplished, says Jon Wertheim.
- Making Mamba: Mark Bechtel reviews the new book The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality.
- The Year in Media: SI names Formula 1 documentary Drive to Survive the Series of the Year, plus the Sports Media Controversy of the Year, Best Documentary of the Year, and more.
- Alex Prewitt on the sudden shortage of an oft-overlooked football mainstay: the end zone pylon.
- SI Full Frame: The dramatically lit shot of Herschel Walker from 1981 in pre-Superdome lightbulbs.
- Faces in the Crowd: Identical twins Lex and Leo Young, 105-year-old Julia Hawkins, and soccer stand-out Seven Castain.
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About Sportsperson of the Year
For the first time in the history of the awards, Sports Illustrated unveiled its Sportsperson of the Year presented by FTX live during the Sports Illustrated Awards (SI) presented by Pepsi Stronger Together from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL on December 7, 2021. The most prestigious honor in sports media, Sportsperson of the Year, is an annual award given to an athlete, coach or team who best represents the spirit and ideals of sportsmanship, character and performance. Medium Rare produced this year’s event in conjunction with ABG Entertainment.