The most remarkable part of the work Doug Baldwin has done in the community over the past couple of years is how unremarkable the Seahawks receiver thinks his actions have been.
Baldwin has made an impact in so many ways, most notably in his ongoing efforts to build a bridge between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, yet time and time again when asked about that work, Baldwin asks why it should be a big deal for him to take advantage of his platform in this way.
But try as he might to downplay it, the impressive work Baldwin is doing has not gone unnoticed. As a result, Baldwin was named Tuesday a finalist for ESPN's Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award, which is given to, as described in a press release from ESPN, "an athlete whose continuous, demonstrated leadership has created a measured positive impact on their community through sports. The candidate must embrace the core principles that Muhammad Ali embodied so well, including confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and respect."
"The answer is still the same, 'why not?'" Baldwin said last month after receiving the Martin Luther King Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service. "As I go through the process of becoming a man, learning, maturing, growing up and seeing the world from the perspective that I've been blessed to be a part of, in terms of going from the South in Florida to the West Coast at Stanford and being exposed to so many different cultures and opinions and viewpoints, then coming to the Pacific Northwest and the same happening over again, somewhere along the line empathy has been injected into me, and it keeps coming back with things we see on TV and in the media, conversations I have with teammates, conversations I have with law enforcement, with community members. For me there's always empathy and this sense of emotion trying to put myself in another person's shoes. And when I do that, I get frustrated, I get sad, I feel the emotions that other people are feeling. I've been blessed with this platform, with these resources, with this networking ability, why can't I use it for the betterment of people who don't have those resources? To me it's just common sense, it's a no-brainer."
Baldwin is one of four finalists for the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award along with Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, Golden State Warriors and former SuperSonics forward Kevin Durant, and WWE wrestler John Cena. The winner will be announced at the fourth annual Sports Humanitarian Awards, which take place on July 17 in Los Angeles. Highlights from the show will air on ESPN on July 24 at 4 p.m. PT.
An ESPN press release on the Sports Humanities Awards said of Baldwin, "The son of a police officer, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin feels uniquely positioned to pursue conversation and solutions about the issues facing law enforcement and the communities they serve. Following several police-involved shootings with unarmed African American men, Baldwin has continually utilized his platform to raise and donate funds, participate in conversations, advocate for changing of state and federal laws, and pursue systemic change. He has met with over 100 local and state elected officials, organizations, community members, law enforcement and other key stakeholders to gain first-hand insight, seek opportunities to create open dialogue and ultimately create change. Baldwin also partnered with the City of Renton, home of the Seahawks training center, to build the Family First Community Center, helping to create pathways for success for local underserved families."
As the ESPN release notes, Baldwin has been involved in his community in a number of ways, ranging from the Family First Community Center to his role in helping lead the creation of the Seahawks Players Equality & Justice for All Action Fund, which in December announced its first seven grants. Recently, the Seahawks Players Action Fund announced it was partnering with Pearl Jam in the Seattle band’s effort to fight homelessness. Dating back to 2016, Baldwin has been a big part of the team's effort to build a bridge between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, and last year he co-wrote a letter with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell that was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling for criminal justice reform. Baldwin also helped support Initiative 940, which called for "law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental-health, and first-aid training, and provide first-aid; and change standards for use of deadly force, adding a 'good faith' standard and independent investigation." In March, Governor Jay Inslee signed 940 into law.