My picks for athlete of the year carried that weight | Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Colin Kaepernick, Maggie Nichols and Serena Williams left us better off because of their commitment to sport and society

Today’s athletes have to carry a lot more baggage than a smelly gym bag and the giddy dreams of their parents. If they hope to achieve true greatness (or GOAT-ness) – and not just fleeting athletic notoriety – they also have to shoulder the leg-wobbling weight of responsibility to the community. This responsibility can come in different forms: charity work, as a role model and/or political activism. At the same time as they’re pushing the boundaries of their sport, they have to help define and promote the values of their community, even if that goes against some of the members of that community. That kind of athlete needs as much courage off the court as they do on it. Maybe more. With that in mind, in no particular order, here are my picks for athlete of the year, based on conduct most becoming a professional athlete.

Related: Colin Kaepernick is out of the NFL but he is more powerful than ever

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