Basketball Hall of Famer and Broadcast Analyst for Inside the NBA Shaquille O’Neal and four-time Olympic gold medalist, four-time WNBA champion and four-time World Cup winner Sue Bird will announce the overall athlete of the year ranking for men and women of the year Cincinnati High School Sports Awards presented by Mercy Health.
The Cincinnati High School Sports Awards are part of the largest high school sport recognition program in the country. Elite athletes in most federally sanctioned sports will be honored in an on-demand broadcast on the event website on June 30th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
More:Chipper Jones, TJ Watt, Laurie Hernandez and Paul Rabil join the growing list presented at the Cincinnati High School Sports Awards
Shaquille O’Neal from New Jersey is considered one of the most dominant basketball players in NBA history. At 7 feet 1 and over 325 pounds, O’Neal’s larger than life personality and athleticism have won worldwide admiration and one of the most passionate fan bases in sports and entertainment. In 19 seasons he received 15 all-star selections, played for six franchises and was described by many as the “most dominant of all time”. He has had success in acting, music, television and games since retiring and is currently an analyst with Inside the NBA.
Philanthropically, O’Neal’s relationship with the Boys & Girls Club of America dates back to his youth in New Jersey. He is a national spokesperson for the organization and has been participating in charitable campaigns for 15 years. In 2019, O’Neal officially launched the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation, which works to create ways for underserved children to help them reach their full potential.
Considered the world’s best point guard, Sue Bird is a celebrated star and the all-time leader of the WNBA when it comes to assists. At 40, she plays the best basketball of her career and is one of only seven women to have won an Olympic gold medal (she has four of them), a world championship gold medal (also four), an NCAA championship (two) and a WNBA championship (four) . Bird is also a five-time Euroleague Champion, eleven-time WNBA All-Star and was voted one of the top 15 WNBA players of all time by fans.
Off the field, she spends time as a basketball analyst for ESPN, a front office manager at the Denver Nuggets, advocating for equality, LGBTQ + rights, black lives, universal health and wellness, and expanded opportunities for girls.
O’Neal will announce the Male Athlete of the Year and Bird the Female Athlete of the Year, two of the biggest awards given on the show.
Also new to the show is Urban Meyer, a three-time college football coach who retired in 2021 to take the lead for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Previously, the Ohio native led the state’s popular Buckeyes to the program’s eighth national championship. He previously led the Florida Gators to two national BCS championships and is one of only three coaches to have won a national soccer championship at two universities. He retired from coaching college football in 2019, but worked as assistant sports director for the state of Ohio and an analyst for Fox Sports before returning to coaching with the Jaguars.
Meyer will announce the team and coach of the year.
The athletics awards are announced by Michael Johnson.
Considered the greatest endurance sprinter in the history of athletics, Johnson set a record of 13 Olympic and world championships during his eleven-year career. During his competitive years, he was so constant and dominant that he came to be known as Superman. He once held the world and Olympic records over 200 m, 400 m and the world record over 400 m in the hall. At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, he became the only male athlete in history to win both the 200- and 400-meter races at the same Olympics, earning him the title of “fastest man in the world”.
Johnson runs Michael Johnson Performance, a training center in Texas that provides youth and online training for young athletes, and is an established author. After recovering from a stroke that left him unable to walk in 2019, he spent much of his time promoting stroke awareness and prevention.
The Wresting Awards are announced by Kyle Snyder, an American freestyle wrestler who is the youngest Olympic gold medalist and the youngest world champion in American wrestling history. He is also the youngest wrestler to win world, NCAA and Olympic championships in the same year. He returned to college in 2016 and won an NCAA wrestling championship. He then won his second and third consecutive NCAA singles title as a heavyweight. With its come-from-behind victory at the 2017 World Cup, Team USA won its first World Cup in over 20 years. Snyder ended his college career by becoming the first and only wrestler to win NCAA, World, and Olympic championships as a college athlete.
The Cincinnati High School Sports Awards are a multi-month recognition program for high school students and athletes. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions for students and guest speakers, the event has been converted to an on-demand broadcast show for 2021. The selection of the award winners for state-sanctioned sports, all of which appear on the show, will be announced on the event’s website throughout the year.
Thanks to local business sponsors, the show can be viewed for free on any smartphone or computer. Award winners should register on the show website to reserve their free athlete gift box. Registrations will also be used to send out prizes for the winners following the show.
Other athletes joining the program that were previously announced are:
- Three-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers
- The two-time soccer world champion Alex Morgan
- Katie Ledecky, five-time Olympic swimming champion
- Olympic and four-time world ski champion Lindsey Vonn
- 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith
- The three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings
- Baseball Hall of Famer Chipper Jones
- US women’s gymnastics gold and silver medalist Laurie Hernandez
- Three-time pro bowler and two-time first-team all-pro outside linebacker TJ Watt
- Most successful tennis player of the open era Martina Navratilova
The inaugural USA TODAY High School Sports Awards showcases the best high school athletes, coaches and teams in selected US nationally recognized sports. Nationwide Athlete of the Year will be among the national award winners.