Beyonce made a surprise appearance at the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards on Tuesday night (05Dec17), to present Colin Kaepernick with the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award.

The gong is given to an athlete who uses their fame and platform to promote change, which quarterback Kaepernick did when he knelt during the U.S. national anthem at various American football games to draw attention to racial discrimination and acts of police brutality.

The move led to hundreds of other stars in the National Football League (NFL) following Kaepernick's lead, resulting in a countrywide protest that saw U.S. President Donald Trump tweeting that the players' decisions to take a knee showed a "lack of leadership" in the NFL.

Presenting the prize, Beyonce said of the former San Francisco 49ers player: "Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion only hope to change the world for the better. To change perception, to change the way we treat each other, especially people of colour."

Meanwhile, Kaepernick, who opted out of his contract in San Francisco to become a free agent, praised his supporters as he accepted the award.

"I say this as a person who receives credit for using my platform to protest systemic oppression, racialized injustice and the dire consequences of anti-blackness in America,” he said. "I accept this award not for myself, but on behalf of the people. Because if it were not for my love of the people, I would not have protested. And if it was not for the support from the people, I would not be on this stage today."

Kaepernick's protest movement has been supported by hundreds of celebrities worldwide, including Beyonce's husband JAY-Z. While providing the musical entertainment on Saturday Night Live in September, the rap mogul turned his back to the cameras during his performance of Bam to reveal 'C. Kaepernick' emblazoned across the back of his jersey.