The BET 100 Entertainers And Innovators Of The Year | The Sports Stars

See who superseded our expectations.

BET 100 | Sports Stars - Sports have long been a refuge from the grind of our daily lives. That is why the league shutdowns during the height of the pandemic were so devastating. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, where you live or how young or old you are, there is a natural camaraderie that builds between fans. Any Monday morning quarterback will tell you, it’s not just about the game. Our favorite athletes inspire us, teach us and show us how to be better. Here, we honor the stars who not only had an impact on the courts, fields and raceways, but also the world around them. —Written by Jarod Hector Plus, don't forget to check back each day this week to find out who else we've added to the BET 100 list...we're just getting started. (BET Digital Design/Getty)

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BET 100 | Sports Stars - Sports have long been a refuge from the grind of our daily lives. That is why the league shutdowns during the height of the pandemic were so devastating. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, where you live or how young or old you are, there is a natural camaraderie that builds between fans. Any Monday morning quarterback will tell you, it’s not just about the game. Our favorite athletes inspire us, teach us and show us how to be better. Here, we honor the stars who not only had an impact on the courts, fields and raceways, but also the world around them. —Written by Jarod Hector Plus, don't forget to check back each day this week to find out who else we've added to the BET 100 list...we're just getting started. (BET Digital Design/Getty)

Naomi Osaka - It's been a career-defining year for the 23-year-old tennis phenom. Naomi Osaka won a major for the third consecutive season at the 2020 U.S. Open, her second U.S. Open title, and third major title overall,  becoming the highest paid female athlete in the world. Her prowess isn’t just limited to the court. Osaka wore masks emblazoned with the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other victims of police brutality and injustice while she played. And we felt lifted when she boycotted an August match in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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Naomi Osaka - It's been a career-defining year for the 23-year-old tennis phenom. Naomi Osaka won a major for the third consecutive season at the 2020 U.S. Open, her second U.S. Open title, and third major title overall,  becoming the highest paid female athlete in the world. Her prowess isn’t just limited to the court. Osaka wore masks emblazoned with the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other victims of police brutality and injustice while she played. And we felt lifted when she boycotted an August match in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton - He’s called the greatest race car driver of all-time and it’s a title well-deserved. Lewis Hamilton, 35, is a seven-time Formula One world champion and has a record setting 94 wins for the most Grand Prix victories. The only Black Formula One driver in a sport many think isn’t for us, Hamilton is a diehard supporter of the BLM movement, telling The Guardian, “People talk about sport not being a place for politics but ultimately it is a human rights issue and that is something we should be pushing towards.” (Photo by TOLGA BOZOGLU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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Lewis Hamilton - He’s called the greatest race car driver of all-time and it’s a title well-deserved. Lewis Hamilton, 35, is a seven-time Formula One world champion and has a record setting 94 wins for the most Grand Prix victories. The only Black Formula One driver in a sport many think isn’t for us, Hamilton is a diehard supporter of the BLM movement, telling The Guardian, “People talk about sport not being a place for politics but ultimately it is a human rights issue and that is something we should be pushing towards.” (Photo by TOLGA BOZOGLU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Patrick Mahomes - In a spectacular season, the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback led his team to the Super Bowl LIV title and was named Super Bowl MVP, only the second Black quarterback to win that honor. Touchdowns, however, are not Patrick Mahomes' only impressive move at Arrowhead Stadium. Through his 15 and the Mahomies Foundation, he turned the venue into a voting site for the 2020 Presidential election. "I thought it was very important not only just to get as many people out to vote as possible but also to use a place (such) as Arrowhead,” Mahomes, 25, said on the Huddle and Flow podcast. “As a place where we can come together and vote and use our voice." (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

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Patrick Mahomes - In a spectacular season, the Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback led his team to the Super Bowl LIV title and was named Super Bowl MVP, only the second Black quarterback to win that honor. Touchdowns, however, are not Patrick Mahomes' only impressive move at Arrowhead Stadium. Through his 15 and the Mahomies Foundation, he turned the venue into a voting site for the 2020 Presidential election. "I thought it was very important not only just to get as many people out to vote as possible but also to use a place (such) as Arrowhead,” Mahomes, 25, said on the Huddle and Flow podcast. “As a place where we can come together and vote and use our voice." (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

Jaylen Brown - It’s hard to believe that Boston Celtics fans booed Jaylen Brown on draft night. Four years later, the guard/forward is one of their most cherished players. Relentless in the game, he helped lead his team to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Off court, he may be even more impressive. After the murder of George Floyd, Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to lead a march with a Celtics cap on his head and a megaphone in his hand. “Jaylen’s greatest impact, as good as he is at basketball, won’t be in basketball,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens a few days later. “He’s a special guy, he’s a special leader.” (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

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Jaylen Brown - It’s hard to believe that Boston Celtics fans booed Jaylen Brown on draft night. Four years later, the guard/forward is one of their most cherished players. Relentless in the game, he helped lead his team to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. Off court, he may be even more impressive. After the murder of George Floyd, Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to lead a march with a Celtics cap on his head and a megaphone in his hand. “Jaylen’s greatest impact, as good as he is at basketball, won’t be in basketball,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens a few days later. “He’s a special guy, he’s a special leader.” (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick - His role launching the #takeaknee movement got him booted from the game he loves. Now his biggest critics are eating crow. In August, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to Colin Kaepernick. “I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” he said during an interview. Goodell is even encouraging teams to sign him. It’s clear Kaepernick still wants to play – he tweets videos of himself training. Until then, his activist spirit has not slowed down. This year he formed Kaepernick Publishing to create and feature stories focused on race and civil rights in America. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

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Colin Kaepernick - His role launching the #takeaknee movement got him booted from the game he loves. Now his biggest critics are eating crow. In August, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to Colin Kaepernick. “I wish we had listened earlier, Kaep, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” he said during an interview. Goodell is even encouraging teams to sign him. It’s clear Kaepernick still wants to play – he tweets videos of himself training. Until then, his activist spirit has not slowed down. This year he formed Kaepernick Publishing to create and feature stories focused on race and civil rights in America. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Dream - Senator Kelly Loeffler is a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, but that didn’t stop her players from mobilizing an effort to vote her out of office. Loeffler, an outspoken opponent of BLM and a Donald Trump supporter, was in a tightly contested race for her senate seat in large part due to her players' campaign to support her opponent, Reverend Raphael Warnock (Democrat). They wore "Vote Warnock" t-shirts, and encouraged the other teams to follow suit. “We are @wnba players, but like the late, great John Lewis said, we are also ordinary people with extraordinary vision,” tweeted Dream forward Elizabeth Williams. “@ReverendWarnock has spent his life fighting for the people and we need him in Washington.” Loeffler and Warnock have advanced to special election runoff that’s scheduled for January 5, 2021. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

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The Atlanta Dream - Senator Kelly Loeffler is a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, but that didn’t stop her players from mobilizing an effort to vote her out of office. Loeffler, an outspoken opponent of BLM and a Donald Trump supporter, was in a tightly contested race for her senate seat in large part due to her players' campaign to support her opponent, Reverend Raphael Warnock (Democrat). They wore "Vote Warnock" t-shirts, and encouraged the other teams to follow suit. “We are @wnba players, but like the late, great John Lewis said, we are also ordinary people with extraordinary vision,” tweeted Dream forward Elizabeth Williams. “@ReverendWarnock has spent his life fighting for the people and we need him in Washington.” Loeffler and Warnock have advanced to special election runoff that’s scheduled for January 5, 2021. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Kylian Mbappé - So amazing are his skills, Kylian Mbappé was described as an alien-like prodigy when he first joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Two years later, his athleticism is still other-worldly. In 2020 Mbappé, 20, helped PSG, the reigning World Cup Champions, win a domestic treble, which is three major national competitions in the same year. “Football is, for me, more than a sport,” Mbappé told Le Monde. “People come to the stadium to forget their lives for 90 minutes…When I was younger, there were players who gave me that pleasure — and now I am in the role.” (Photo by Ozan Kose - Pool/Getty Images)

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Kylian Mbappé - So amazing are his skills, Kylian Mbappé was described as an alien-like prodigy when he first joined Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Two years later, his athleticism is still other-worldly. In 2020 Mbappé, 20, helped PSG, the reigning World Cup Champions, win a domestic treble, which is three major national competitions in the same year. “Football is, for me, more than a sport,” Mbappé told Le Monde. “People come to the stadium to forget their lives for 90 minutes…When I was younger, there were players who gave me that pleasure — and now I am in the role.” (Photo by Ozan Kose - Pool/Getty Images)

Claressa Shields - Claressa Shields is the first American boxer – male or female – to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016. This year, she became the fastest fighter to win world titles in three weight divisions. Shields also fought hard for the people in her hometown of Flint, Michigan, encouraging residents to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census, and have their voices heard. No wonder she calls herself GWOAT (greatest woman of all time), Shields has accomplished so much at just 25 years of age. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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Claressa Shields - Claressa Shields is the first American boxer – male or female – to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016. This year, she became the fastest fighter to win world titles in three weight divisions. Shields also fought hard for the people in her hometown of Flint, Michigan, encouraging residents to fill out the 2020 U.S. Census, and have their voices heard. No wonder she calls herself GWOAT (greatest woman of all time), Shields has accomplished so much at just 25 years of age. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Blake Bolden - Blake Bolden became the National Hockey League’s first Black female scout in 2020. A former college and professional player, she had dreams of playing for Team USA. That dream never materialized, but from disappointment she found a new purpose. “If kids see something attainable, it gives them the confidence to say, ‘Oh, I want to be like Blake, or Serena Williams, or Misty Copeland.’ My whole idea of why I play hockey changed. It wasn’t just for fun anymore. It was for a bigger purpose,” she told Sports Illustrated. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Blake Bolden - Blake Bolden became the National Hockey League’s first Black female scout in 2020. A former college and professional player, she had dreams of playing for Team USA. That dream never materialized, but from disappointment she found a new purpose. “If kids see something attainable, it gives them the confidence to say, ‘Oh, I want to be like Blake, or Serena Williams, or Misty Copeland.’ My whole idea of why I play hockey changed. It wasn’t just for fun anymore. It was for a bigger purpose,” she told Sports Illustrated. (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

Crystal Dunn - Arguably the most versatile soccer player on the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), Crystal Dunn, 28, helped the USA win the World Cup in 2019. This summer in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests taking place all over the world, she had an important conversation about representation at the highest levels in soccer with Brianna Pinto of the US U-20 women’s national team. In their conversation, which was shown on the U.S. Soccer Federation’s YouTube channel, Dunn told Pinto and fans, “I was one of the few Black girls on the national team, but I think once I got there I really felt like I’m playing more than just for myself. It’s really representing Black girls and showing and proving that we belong in this sport.” (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

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Crystal Dunn - Arguably the most versatile soccer player on the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), Crystal Dunn, 28, helped the USA win the World Cup in 2019. This summer in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests taking place all over the world, she had an important conversation about representation at the highest levels in soccer with Brianna Pinto of the US U-20 women’s national team. In their conversation, which was shown on the U.S. Soccer Federation’s YouTube channel, Dunn told Pinto and fans, “I was one of the few Black girls on the national team, but I think once I got there I really felt like I’m playing more than just for myself. It’s really representing Black girls and showing and proving that we belong in this sport.” (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)