Chris Long receives humanitarian award

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LOS ANGELES (CBS19 NEWS) -- An athlete with ties to Charlottesville has been recognized on a national level yet again.

Chris Long, who played at St. Anne's-Belfield and the University of Virginia before entering the NFL, received the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award at the fifth annual Sports Humanitarian Awards presented by ESPN and sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company on Tuesday.

According to a release, ESPN granted more than $1 million to charities supported by honoree and awardees, and the evening also benefited the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund at the V Foundation.

The release adds Long received the award for his commitment to giving back through multi-faceted efforts that attack larger systematic issues such as educational equality and access to clean water.

In 2017, he donated his entire salary from playing for the Philadelphia Eagles to educational equality and encouraged his fans to do the same, raising $1.75 million to support the three cities where he played in the NFL: St. Louisa, Boston, and Philadelphia.

Long's Waterboys Initiative has also helped more than 225,000 people in East Africa gain access to clean drinking water by building wells. His work has also inspired 26 other NFL players to participate in Waterboys, and the program recently expanded into the NBA with Hoops2o.

Last year, Long was also honored at the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for matching his financial donations with boots-on-the-ground efforts.

The awards ceremony featured tennis legend Billie Jean King, who recognized four honorees who received the inaugural Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award for their leadership and commitment to improving their communities through sport.

Other winners including the National Hockey League, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, Under Armor, and Adidas.

A special one-hour program will air July 18 at 7 p.m. on ESPN showcasing highlights from the Sports Humanitarian Awards.

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