Professional basketball player LeBron James and Olympic gold medalist gymnast Simone Biles both won yet another top honor: 2016′s Athletes of the Year.
The award from the Associated Press news service is one of America’s oldest and most coveted honors for individual athletes. AP has been naming a male and female athlete of the year since 1931, a time when women were not always recognized or even allowed to compete in certain sports. AP considers all athletes from around the world.
2016’s winners, selected by AP’s U.S. editors and news directors, are both known for their leadership away from sports.
James helped lead the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team to its first championship and gave the city its first major sports championship in 52 years.
The Ohio native also “used his superstar platform to address social causes,” the AP said in announcing James as the 2016 Male Athlete of the Year, an award he won previously in 2013.
James has been vocal about relations between African-American communities and police. “All lives do matter. It’s not just black or white,” he said. He also created the LeBron James Family Foundation to help children stay in school and be active in the community.
Biles won a record-tying four gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil along with a bronze with the U.S. women’s gymnastics team.
The hashtag #SimoneThings trended on Twitter during the Olympics as the 19-year-old Texan amazed fans with her athletic feats. The AP said Biles was redefining her sport “one boundary-pushing routine at a time.” For this, the AP named her the 2016 Female Athlete of the Year.
Since the Olympics, Biles has won admiration for her straightforward talk, including about a medical condition called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. “Having ADHD and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that I’m afraid to let people know,” she tweeted.
She has also taken on Internet trolls. “You all can judge my body all you want, but at the end of the day it’s MY body. I love it & I’m comfortable in my skin,” she tweeted in December.