Whitworth will receive $100,000 for his Big Whit 77 Foundation with the award, which was voted on by NFL players. The other finalists were the Bengals' Geno Atkins, the Jets' Kelvin Beachum, the Broncos' Von Miller and Panthers' Cam Newton. Each of the finalists received $10,000 for their charities.
Whitworth was recognized for donating his game check (approximately $60,000) to the Ventura County Community Foundation's Conejo Valley Victims Fund after the mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill that killed 12 people in Thousand Oaks, California. He also auctioned his game jersey to benefit the American Red Cross after the California wildfires in November. Whitworth himself was forced to evacuate his home because of the fires.
Whitworth's Rams are preparing to play in Sunday's Super Bowl. He was not at the NFLPA's news conference; his wife, Melissa, accepted the award.
Former Falcons tackle Mike Kenn introduced Melissa Whitworth and noted that her husband went "above and beyond in serving his city.''
"This means a lot to our family,'' Melissa Whitworth said, "but not as much as it's about the community of Thousand Oaks. I've never been through anything quite like the month of November in Southern California. Twelve people were murdered 5 miles away, and hour later our entire city was on fire.''
She noted there were firefighters "who chose to save our house when theirs were burning.''
On a video, Whitworth called the honor "something so special because of community involvement.'' He hoped the money would "make lasting change in our community.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.