So it turns out that Sean Penn isn't a total jerk to everyone. Despite his rumored penchant for Russian hookers and questionable politics, the Academy Award-winning actor has actually been lauded for his good deeds.
Penn was given the 2012 Peace Summit Award yesterday in Chicago for his work aiding victims of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Joined onstage by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former Polish President Lech Walesa and the Dalai Lama, Penn gave an emotional acceptance speech.
"It's an overused phrase I know, but I trust you know it's genuine today, I am humbled. I'm trembling and I like it," he said.
"It would take a poet laureate to describe for you the courage and the dignity of [Haiti's] people. There are no people on earth more willing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But as Dr. Martin Luther King said, it's fine to tell a man to pull himself up by his own bootstraps, but evil to tell a man to do so without boots."
The actor is a major player in Haitian recovery efforts. He lives in the country approximately 50 percent of the time and is the CEO of the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, managing two camps that provide homes to nearly 18,000 people.
"He actually exchanged his home in Malibu for a tent," United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Udo Janz said while introducing Penn. "Think of it as the Oscar for your humanitarian commitment, Sean."
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