The award is given out annually to the player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
It's the award that Rizzo really wanted, he said, because winning it means he's helping to change lives.
"When I found out, it was really emotional for everyone involved in the foundation and my life," Rizzo said. "Baseball is my passion. I love playing baseball. I want to be the best I can be, but to be able to reach out and reach so many different people on a different level, I never overlook it."
Rizzo, 28, was a five-time nominee for the award before taking home the honors this season. His Rizzo Family Foundation has raised $4 million over the years helping families of cancer patients. Rizzo is a cancer survivor himself.
"Going to hospitals keeps me motivated," Rizzo said. "You see the looks on the kids' faces. It's a couple seconds away from reality from what they're going through when I go in there."
Rizzo hosts several fundraisers a year both in season and during the winter, and he often visits hospitals all over Chicago. On the Cubs' last trip to Pittsburgh, earlier this year, he visited the Clemente museum on the same day he was named a nominee for the award.
"He set the bar for all athletes, especially baseball players," Rizzo said of Clemente, adding that he believes Clemente's No. 21 should be retired throughout the league.
Earlier this year, Rizzo's foundation made a $3.5 million endowment to Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. Now he'll be recognized for his work in the community, receiving what commissioner Rob Manfred calls the game's "most prestigious award."
"To be able to be part of this type of award is something I can't even imagine," Rizzo said. "That's the impact we want to make. We want to impact families directly. That's the staple of this foundation. To help families directly."