Four for the Show

The Image Awards bestows its highest honors

Muhammad Ali
President's Award
Ali -- whose public life has been greatly diminished by the debilitating effects of Parkinson's disease -- nonetheless remains a galvanizing figure who has revered the world over. His global renown as heavyweight boxing champion in the 1960s and '70s gave way to a dignified and dedicated humanitarianism that has endeared him to cultures throughout the planet, involving goodwill missions to Afghanistan and North Korea and helping supply meals and medical supplies to millions of those in need.

Al Gore
Chairman's Award
Al Gore hasn't exactly disappeared since returning to life as a private citizen after eight years as vice president. He's helping to make movies (the Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth") and busy being the public face of the movement to curb global warming and rescue an environment in peril. He also shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, the ultimate accolade for a man who has dedicated much of his adult life to making the world take seriously the burgeoning climate crisis.

Wangari Muta Maatha
Chairman's Award
The Kenyan-born Dr. Muta Maatha won a 2004 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her tireless work with the Green Belt Movement and her environmental and political activism, making her the first African woman to be so honored. She is internationally recognized for her contribution to "sustainable development, democracy and peace," as was cited in her Nobel honor. Of Kikuyu ethnicity, she remains dedicated to the struggle for democracy, human rights and conservation.

Russell Simmons
Vanguard Award
Russell Simmons is credited as the man who gave birth to hip-hop culture. His name is synonymous with the transformation of rap music into something palatable to the mainstream, using it as a marketing tool to shape and shift everything from music and fashion to TV and movies. In his spare time, he also produced or managed acts including hip-hop pioneers Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys while creating a phenomenon via his "Def Comedy Jam" franchise.