Dont'a Hightower's work to raise awareness for the American Diabetes Association is well known in New England, and this week he received national recognition for his advocacy. Dont'a was honored with Sports Spectacular's Spirit Award on Monday night in Los Angeles.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin of the Clippers presented Dont'a with the award, and he dedicated the award to his mother, L'Tanya. When L'Tanya was diagnosed with diabetes in 2015, Dont'a felt compelled to do something to raise money for research and awareness about the disease.
In his acceptance speech, Dont'a spoke about how much it meant to be celebrated for his philanthropy off the field.
"To be honored as a person as opposed to a football player is an incredible feeling," Dont'a said. "I know so many of us athletes are working to create positive changes in our communities and in this world but unfortunately the public doesn't always see it ... Being here tonight has fueled me further to keep the off the field work going and continuing to raise funds and awareness for diabetes."
For the past two years, Dont'a has hosted aMonday Night Football Watch Party to raise money for the American Diabetes Association, and this year, his mother stood by his side as he used his platform for good. On Monday night, L'Tanya stood by her son again as he accepted the Spirit Award, and Dont'a made sure everyone knew she was the reason he was inspired to act.
"This woman up here with me is the reason I'm here tonight. Thank you mom for everything you've done for me ... While your diabetes diagnosis was not ideal, it has inspired me to get out there and do this important work off the field," he said. "So mom this one is for you because I wouldn't be here at all if it wasn't for you."
Since the Sports Spectacular event's inception, it has raised more than $27 million for Sports Spectacular Diabetes and Obesity Wellness & Research Center at Cedars-Sinai.