Pope Francis Bestows Blessing on Atlanta Hawks’ Sharecare MLK Jersey

The pandemic may have halted parades but Sharecare honors MLK’s legacy and achievements.

Medically reviewed in January 2021

Updated on January 15, 2020 at 7:30pm EST

More than 50 years past his lifetime, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words calling for civil rights and equality in the United States still resonate today.

Each year, the life of this civil rights icon is honored on the third Monday in January. Although the pandemic has disrupted the tradition of commemorative marches and events, Sharecare and its partners, including the Atlanta Hawks are honoring Dr. King’s legacy and achievements in meaningful ways.

Pope Francis bestows his blessing
In November 2020, five N.B.A. players and officials from the Players’ Association met privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss issues of social injustice and economic inequality.

The Pope had expressed his concern about rising racial unrest in the U.S. over the past year, wanting to learn more about the athletes’ activities around the unsettling events. Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has sought to shift the church’s focus to addressing issues of social justice, such as poverty, migration and equality. 

Following the meeting, the Atlanta Hawks gifted the Pope a commemorative 2020-21 MLK Nike City Edition jersey as a symbol of a shared commitment with the players to making positive change exemplified in the guiding principles of Dr. King’s legacy—social equality, economic empowerment, and love. In addition to honoring Dr. King, whose teachings the Pope heralds for their influence on social justice, the jersey was personalized with his name, “FRANCIS” and the number “1,” symbolically uniting the legacies of two humanitarian leaders.

“On the day of the anniversary of Dr. King's birthday, thank you all for this tribute to MLK and for all the work you are doing,” Pope Francis said upon receiving and blessing the jersey.

More about the jersey
As the team’s jersey patch partner since 2017, Sharecare has been united with the Atlanta Hawks under a movement to create positive changes and improve the well-being among people and their communities.

For the 2020-21 season, the Atlanta Hawks committed to honoring the life and work of Dr. King as a global icon and one of the city’s most favored sons. As part of this effort, the Hawks joined the King Estate Foundation, NBA, NBPA and Nike to release the 2020-21 MLK Nike City Edition uniform, with proceeds from jersey sales supporting programs that continue Dr. King’s work toward economic empowerment among communities of color.

The Sharecare patch, which is emblazoned on the “heart” of every special-edition jersey, signifies an ongoing partnership through which we share passion and pride for the legacy of Dr. King, whose life’s works paved the way for happier, healthier, and more equitable futures for everyone.

The work and legacy continues
Sharecare’s vision is to help everyone live longer, healthier lives, bringing the many different dimensions of well-being together—including social well-being to community elements—for people everywhere. In Atlanta and beyond, the company is proud to drive these positive changes among its communities, which builds upon the important work of leaders like Dr. King to create greater futures for everyone equally.

Reflecting on this, Sharecare president Dawn Whaley recently shared a timely and inspiring call to action: “At Sharecare, we are driven by the philosophy that we are all together better; and now, more than ever, we must elevate the things—and people—that not only make us better versions of ourselves, but also unite us in the process.”

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