Major League Baseball's Roberto Clemente award is given to a player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions on and off the field.
Each MLB team nominates one player from their club to be considered for the award.
For the third year in a row, the Chicago White Sox have chosen closer Liam Hendriks to represent their organization as a nominee. Hendriks was nominated for the award by the Oakland Athletics in 2017 and 2019.
"It's just an honor," Hendriks told reporters on Friday. "I know Roberto Clemente Jr. We've done some work with him in the past and it's a great family. And obviously the legacy that Roberto Clemente has left behind, it's enduring. And it's something that I think everyone can strive towards because this is one of those awards that has nothing to do with talent and has a lot to do with compassion, and giving, and making sure that you use your platform for good."
Hendriks and his wife, Kristi, boast a long list of local Chicagoland community projects, which includes supporting essential workers along with foster care and animal rescue agencies. Each year, the couple donates more than $1 million of their own money to charities, according to MLB.
Since his Stage 4 lymphoma diagnosis in December 2022, Hendriks and Kristi have been committed to raising awareness and funds for adolescent and young adult cancer. Hendriks and the White Sox raised nearly $129,000 for lymphoma research through "Close out Cancer" t-shirt sales. He also makes a point to meet with young cancer patients in almost every city when the team is on the road.
"One of the kids in Chicago had a tumor in his knee and showed me where they cut off the bone and then showed me the tumor side the bone, and then I'll show [them] my Tommy John scar," Hendriks said. "So it's a little bit of rapport and talking normally and not treating them like there's something different. It's just that normal conversation, but you've been through something similar, so you can have a conversation about that, as well.
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"There's people in in the hospital every once a week for the rest of their lives going through this. But they're battling and they're fighting it out and they're taking it to it, and that's all we can do. And hopefully we can raise a little bit of awareness and a little bit of funding that goes towards the research, and hopefully at some point, we can get a cure for most types because there's 82 different types of Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. So any kind of awareness and funding we can we can raise is huge."
After undergoing eight rounds of chemotherapy treatment, Hendriks announced he was cancer-free in April 2023. His return to the mound on May 29 was celebrated across major league baseball.
Hendriks accepted the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2023 ESPY Awards in July and delivered a powerful speech to millions of viewers about the obstacles he's overcome.
A few weeks later, the White Sox announced Hendriks underwent Tommy John Surgery and would require a 12-14 month recovery timeline.
Fans can view the list of nominees for the 2023 Roberto Clemente award and vote for who they think should win here.