Cena, who has granted more than 600 Make-A-Wish wishes, also advocates for breast cancer awareness and early detection.
"I am truly thrilled to receive Sports Illustrated's Muhammad Ali Legacy Award," Cena said. "Ali's commitment to helping others, his dedication to the sport and his generous spirit are incomparable and he was a role model to us all. To be linked with him in any way is an honor that means so much to me."
SI Executive Editor Stephen Cannella, who selected Cena for the honor along with other SI editors, praised Cena for his commitment to philanthropy.
"From his unparalleled work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to his support for a wide range of causes ranging from activism for military families to cancer research, John has made personal outreach and generosity of time and spirit his calling cards," said Cannella. "He might just be the most charitable person in sports, and his dedication to philanthropy richly reflects the spirit of the Ali Legacy Award."
The award was created in 2008 and renamed after Ali in 2015. Bill Russell, Colin Kaepernick, Jack Nicklaus, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown and Earvin "Magic" Johnson have received the award in the past. The presentation will take place at SI's Sportsperson of the Year event on December 11 at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Los Angeles.