Upon accepting the award Kaepernick promised that "with or without the NFL's platform, I will continue to work for the people."
Queen Bey also thanked Kaepernick for his "personal sacrifice," and in a video tribute the 2016 Ali Award winner Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called Kaepernick a "worthy recipient".
Kaepernick has made headlines since he began kneeling during the national anthem last season to protest racial inequality and police brutality. The demonstration sparked a wave of protests by NFL players during the anthem that repeatedly have been denounced by President Donald Trump. Kaepernick left 49ers in March and has raised questions and rallies among his supporters because he hasn't been signed to a team since.
Thank you very much to Sports Illustrated for the honor of the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. I am humbled and honored to share this with the people.— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) December 6, 2017
📸: @KarlFergusonJr pic.twitter.com/EtgoCXmu9l