While Cena is a 16-time WWE champion, that is not what this award is about. Instead, Cena is getting an award for his work outside of the WWE — specifically in charity work.
Lonnie Ali, the widow of the late Muhammad Ali, collaborates with Sports Illustrated every year to make the selection of the Legacy Award. Mrs. Ali will attend the show where Cena is honored.
John Cena has worked with the Make a Wish Foundation for a number of years and has granted more wishes than any other celebrity or athlete in the history of the organization.
Cena has granted almost 600 wishes for children with life-threatening diseases.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 29, 2018
On top of the Make a Wish Foundation, the WWE superstar has also been a strong advocate for breast cancer awareness, activism for military families and cancer research.
The Muhammad Ali Legacy Award was originally called the Sports Illustrated Legacy Award when it debuted in 2008. That year, Eunice Kennedy Shriver won it for founding the Special Olympics.
In 2015, Sports Illustrated renamed the award to honor boxing legend Muhammad Ali due to his work as a civil rights activist and humanitarian. Former winners included Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jack Nicklaus, Magic Johnson and Colin Kaepernick.
The SI Sportsperson of the Year Awards show takes place on Tuesday, December 11, in Los Angeles. It will air nationally on NBCSN at 9 p.m. EST on December 13.