McCourty, who announced his retirement from the NFL in March, will be recognized in November for his service off the field when he receives the Embracing the Legacy Award from RFK Community Alliance.
The Lancaster-based nonprofit that provides all kinds of family support services is specifically placing its focus on what it says is one of McCourty’s “most pivotal moments in his career”: helping free a man serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole.
McCourty, teammates and other members of the Patriots organization during the 2021 season partnered with social justice advocates to free Brockton resident William Allen, who was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1997 after committing an armed robbery that killed 42-year-old Purvis Bester in 1994.
The advocacy work led to former Gov. Charlie Baker commuting Allen’s first-degree murder conviction, making him immediately eligible for parole, in January 2022. Allen was 48 at the time he was freed.
“People, especially children, shouldn’t be defined by the worst thing that they have done,” McCourty said in a release. “It is vital to showcase new pathways to break the systemic cycles that prevent people from reaching their full potential.”
The commutation marked the first to happen in 25 years in Massachusetts.
McCourty helped lead the Patriots to three Super Bowl championships during his 13-year career and is arguably destined to end up as a Hall of Famer, in Foxboro and in Canton. He earned two Pro Bowl nods and held one of the longest consecutive starts streaks in franchise history, making 115 straight starts and playing more than 12,000 snaps.
But RFK Community Alliance says his off-the-field impact is equally as noteworthy through his advocacy for social justice reform, focusing on the school-to-prison pipeline and juvenile justice reform. He is part of a host of various community initiatives across Boston and New England.
“When members of the community use their platform to champion equity and fairness, it has a profound impact and inspires lasting change,” the Alliance’s president and CEO Michael Ames said in a statement. “Devin is a model for us all, and his actions truly reflect the social values and hopes of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy.”