Sir Lewis Hamilton and Mo Salah were recognised for their activism at the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards on Thursday evening.
Hamilton was singled out for his racial justice protests throughout his successful campaign to win a seventh F1 world title.
After being named athlete advocate of the year, he said: 'This past year has been incredibly difficult for so many, but it has also been heartening to see the power of our collective voices spark new conversations and change.
Sir Lewis Hamilton has won Athlete Advocate of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards
Liverpool's Mo Salah won Sporting Inspiration owing to his advocacy of women's equality
Rafael Nadal (left) and Naomi Osaka (right) won Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year
Laureus World Sports Awards: Winners list
Sportsman of the Year: Rafael Nadal.
Sportswoman of the Year: Naomi Osaka.
Team of the Year: Bayern Munich.
Breakthrough of the Year: Patrick Mahomes.
Comeback of the Year: Max Parrot.
Sport for Good: KICKFORMORE by KICKFAIR.
Lifetime Achievement: Billie Jean King.
Athlete Advocate of the Year: Lewis Hamilton.
Sporting Inspiration: Mo Salah.
Sporting Moment of the Year: Chris Nikic.
'The impact of each and every one of you who have stood up, is so inspiring, so I want to thank you.
'Please keep fighting, keep shining your light. I truly believe that together, we will get there, and so I stand with you as we push forwards.
'I'm sending you all love and positivity, stay safe. Thank you.'
During a digital ceremony, Rafael Nadal was named sportsman of the year for equalling Roger Federer's haul of 20 Slams.
Japanese tennis player and activist Naomi Osaka, 23, who was named on Time's list of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2019 and 2020, won the sportswoman gong.
Liverpool's Egyptian forward Salah took the sporting inspiration award owing to his advocacy of women's equality in the Middle East.
Salah said: 'It was a very difficult year on so many levels and for so many people around the world.
'Some of us were kept away from our family and friends, and others even lost loved ones.
'We need to learn from this experience, support one another, and do our best to look ahead.'
Reds manager Jurgen Klopp said: 'If I tell you he is an even better person than he is a player, then you may be able to imagine what kind of guy he is. This is well deserved.'
German giants Bayern Munich won Team of the Year after their Champions League trophy
Tennis legend and gender equality advocate Billie Jean King won Lifetime Achievement Award