San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin has been named the 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year at this season's NFL Honors. The veteran, who is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and Super Bowl champion, is undeniably one of the game's most dynamic players, but it was his philanthropic endeavors that garnered him the prestigious award.
"When I first got into the NFL nobody could tell me anything. I was living life," Boldin said. "I had achieved my dream of one day making it into the NFL, but I soon realized that's not what life is all about. I realized my purpose in life was not to make it to the NFL and score touchdowns. God put me on this earth for something much bigger than that and I realized and understand what my purpose is now. ... It's my prayer and my hope that I can live out the rest of my life honoring God and help as many people as possible."
Boldin established the Anquan Boldin (Q81) Foundation in 2004 with the mission to expand the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged children, and has since has held charitable events in Phoenix, Baltimore, South Florida and the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, he and his wife Dionne announced a $1 million pledge to escalate the impact of the Foundation.
The Anquan Boldin Foundation offers numerous programs, including a summer enrichment program, Thanksgiving food drives, which offers 300 meals annually in addition to holiday shopping sprees. Last fall, the Foundation awarded $10,000 academic scholarships to five students entering college. Since the Foundation's inception, it has awarded 13 four-year scholarships through the "Q81" Foundation Scholarship Fund.
"I know I'm here receiving this award, but there should be a line of people standing alongside of me because my Foundation doesn't work without them," Boldin said.
Boldin has also made an impact globally. Since 2010, he has worked with Oxfam America, taking two overseas trips to Ethiopia and Senegal, later using his testimony to lobby Senegalese rights at the White House.
Boldin is the first 49ers player to win the distinguished award.