The Arizona Cardinals 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year is Jonathan Ledbetter.
From the team:
The Arizona Cardinals Football Club announced today that defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter has been named the “Cardinals/Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.”
The award is in recognition of outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field. As a nominee, Ledbetter will receive up to a $55,000 donation to the charity of his choice and wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
“So many of our players go above and beyond when it comes to contributing to the community and it is challenging to single out just one for this honor. But whether it’s here in Arizona or in his home state of Georgia, Jonathan has consistently demonstrated a commitment to serving others that exemplifies everything that this award stands for,” said Cardinals Owner Michael Bidwill. “We are enormously proud to have him represent the Cardinals and to present him as our 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.”
Ledbetter is one of 32 NFL “Man of the Year” recipients to qualify for the league’s national 2023 “Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year” award. For the sixth consecutive year, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as finalists and recognized for their important work during the week leading up to Super Bowl LVIII. The 2023 “Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year” will be announced during NFL Honors, an awards special to air on CBS the Thursday before Super Bowl LVIII. The winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice.
In his third season with the Cardinals, Ledbetter’s charitable efforts focus on helping shape and empower the next generation. Ledbetter was inspired to make an impact in the lives of children by his mother, Teresa Belcher, a single parent who spent more than two decades in the Air Force. Ledbetter created his foundation, Led A Better Way, upon entering the NFL in 2019. However, the foundation and Ledbetter’s impact in the community has grown drastically over his last two seasons with the Cardinals. Through his foundation, Ledbetter has hosted youth football camps, holiday gift drives, hospital visits and mental health awareness events among other charitable activities in both Arizona and his native Georgia.
Many of the causes Ledbetter supports have been a part of his own journey. In July, he held his second annual Led A Better Way Foundation Youth Football Camp at his alma mater, Tucker (GA) High School. With over 200 participants, the children participated in a variety of non-contact drills, received individual instruction and gear from Ledbetter. Ledbetter didn’t have the financial ability to go to specialized camps as a young player, so it is important to him to provide access to as many young athletes as possible.
In March, Ledbetter spoke at Tucker H.S. about mental health on World Teen Mental Wellness Day. He shared his own battle with depression with students and emphasized that everyone goes through tough times and that it is ok to not be ok. In February, he served as a keynote speaker at the Black Men’s Brain Health Conference in Phoenix where he discussed the pain and pleasure that comes with being a professional athlete.
Ledbetter recently joined forces with teammates Kelvin Beachum and Dennis Gardeck to provide over 230 Arizona families in need with Thanksgiving dinner. In October, Ledbetter gifted a new outdoor learning space to Thew Elementary in Tempe for the school to hold science classes and conduct experiments. In addition to his own foundation, he is a frequent participant in community events hosted by the team. This season Ledbetter has proudly represented the Cardinals at military appreciation events, hospital visits, youth clinics, back-to-school drives and meal distributions among many other events throughout the Valley.
Congratulations to Ledbetter.