Courtesy of Howard University Athletic Media Relations
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 22, 2020 – During the 2020 ESPY Awards on Sunday, June 21, former tennis champion and social activist Billie Jean King announced this year’s Youth Leadership Award winners, where Howard University’s rising junior Niah Woods took home the prestigious award.
The Cincinnati, Ohio native was one of seven winners acknowledged for their dedication in their respective communities.
Along with the other award winners, Woods will receive either a one-time $10,000 college scholarship or direct a grant to an eligible nonprofit aligned with their work. Among the other recipients is American University’s Elijah Murphy, the son of HU Hall of Famer Deborah Murphy from the women’s track & field program.
“I am extremely blessed and highly favored to receive this award,” Woods said. “Being recognized by someone who has had such a great impact in the world of sports is unbelievable.”
The Grassroot Project (TPG) capitalizes on the excitement, relatability, and popularity of sports to provide much-needed health literacy and social empowerment programs to D.C. teens. The program invests in leadership training, cultural competency, and professional skills.
“The Grassroot Project has impacted my life for the better,” Woods said. “To be surrounded by a group of people who want to make an impact on people’s lives is truly incredible. This organization has helped shape what I desire to be in my future, it has also given me another reason to smile every day.”
Woods joins her Bison family and other student-athletes and teens in the D.C. area to make The District a healthier city. After one semester, she was named head volunteer.
“We are so proud of Niah,” Howard Director of Athletics Kery Davis said. “She exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete in competition and academically while giving back to the community. She has a bright future ahead of her.”
Woods is a two-sport student-athlete at The Mecca, serving as a member of the women’s basketball team and women’s track & field team. The psychology major with a double minor in chemistry and sociology chose HU because of its HBCU culture. After graduation, she plans to be a psychiatrist and have her own practice firm.
Recently, Woods was named to the 2020 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Commissioner’s All-Academic Team.
“I am learning every day like the kids that I am teaching,” Woods said. “The work is truly outstanding, and I am grateful to be a part of it.”
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Sports Humanitarian Awards, normally separate from the ESPY Awards, were combined as part of one virtual celebration on the night.
The show was broadcasted on television nationwide throughout the U.S., hosted by WNBA Champion and Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird, Olympic Gold Medalist and OL Reign wing Megan Rapinoe and Super Bowl champion and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.