As Albert Pujols plays in his final Major League season, he’s being celebrated virtually everywhere he goes, most recently at the All-Star Game along with fellow future Hall of Fame slugger Miguel Cabrera. But Pujols was celebrated Wednesday night not for his legendary exploits on the field, but what he does to give back when he’s off of it.
Pujols received the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at the ESPYs in honor of his tireless efforts to serve others in need. He is the second MLB player to win the award in the past three years, with Nelson Cruz winning it in 2020.
“As great as my career has been, my passion is what I do when the season is over,” Pujols said in an ESPYs video. “That’s to serve and give back. That’s how I want to be remembered.”
Pujols, who will bring his illustrious 22-year MLB career to an end at the end of this season, helps impoverished people in his native Dominican Republic, as well as people with Down syndrome, through the Pujols Family Foundation. His foundation’s service to the Down syndrome community is inspired by his own connection to the disorder — his daughter, Isabella.
“We have programs for some of these kids and adults to do,” Pujols said, “like basketball, cooking classes … and the one that I enjoy the most — I love to dance — the prom. You’re talking about a ballroom full of 500-700 kids and adults with Down syndrome, just having a blast.”
Pujols has blasted home runs like few other sluggers, but his greatest impact has been away from the game he has given so much to, and the award he received Wednesday at the ESPYs will surely have a special place alongside his 2001 National League Rookie of the Year Award, three MVP Awards, two Gold Glove Awards, six Silver Slugger Awards, the 2003 NL batting title and the 2004 NL Championship Series MVP Award.
As his playing career comes to a close, Pujols will reflect on more than two decades in the Majors as one of the most feared sluggers in baseball history. But another reflection will be on the service he has rendered to countless people whose lives are better because of his efforts.
“It’s part of my responsibility, it’s part of this journey,” Pujols said. “To give back to the community.”
Video added by Editor, courtesy of You Tube!