07/18 22:31 CDT Sex abuse victims join hands, accept courage award at ESPYs
Sex abuse victims join hands, accept courage award at ESPYs
By BETH HARRIS
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) --- More than 140 survivors of sexual abuse by a former team
doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University joined hands on stage
to be honored with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYs.
The women who spoke out against the abuse by Larry Nassar stood together
Wednesday night in a powerful and solemn closing to the show highlighting the
past year's top athletes and moments in sports.
Gymnast Aly Raisman, softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez and gymnast Sarah
Klein, who said she was Nassar's first victim 30 years ago, took turns
speaking. Klein chided the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and Michigan
State for placing "money and medals above the safety of child athletes."
Olympic snowboarding champion Chloe Kim won a leading three ESPYs, including
best female athlete, while Alex Ovechkin claimed best male athlete.
Kim had tears in her eyes as she listened to the Arthur Ashe recipients.
"We must start caring about children's safety more than we care about adults'
reputations," Klein said. "If we can just give one person the courage to use
their voice, this is worth it."
Raisman added, "For too long we were ignored. It could have been avoided. All
we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry
The audience gave the group a prolonged standing ovation and remained on its
feet while the women spoke.
Ovechkin joined Roger Federer and Olympic snowboarder Shaun White as double
winners. Ovechkin was in Russia with his wife, Nastya, who is 8 months
Newly retired racecar driver Danica Patrick became the first woman to host the
show at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Her opening monologue
mostly fell flat, with athletes sitting stone-faced or wincing at many of the
Kim took female athlete honors over Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin, WNBA player
Sylvia Fowles and soccer player Julie Ertz.
"This year has been filled with so many incredible memories I will hold onto
the rest of my life," Kim said as she held the silver trophy. "I really want to
thank my family. They've sacrificed so much for me."
Kim also claimed trophies for best female Olympian and female action sports
athlete. At the Pyeongchang Games in February, she became the youngest to win a
snowboarding medal when the then-17-year-old claimed gold in halfpipe.
Ovechkin, who led the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup
championship, also won for best NHL player. He beat out Patriots quarterback
Tom Brady and fellow first-time nominees Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and
James Harden of the Houston Rockets for male athlete.
Federer's five-set victory at the Australian Open in January for his 20th Grand
Slam singles title earned honors for record-breaking performance and he also
received best male tennis player.
White won best Olympic moment with his final-run performance in South Korea
featuring back-to-back 1440s to take gold, and best male Olympian.
The Astros were honored as best team for winning the franchise's first World
LeBron James, soon to be starring across the street at Staples Center with the
Los Angeles Lakers, won best NBA player for the third straight year on his 14th
consecutive nomination in the category.
Brady claimed best NFL player, while Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels won
On a big night for Olympians, the U.S. women's hockey team earned best game
honors for their shootout victory over Canada in the gold-medal game in South
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz earned breakthrough athlete honors.
Quarterback Nick Foles received the championship performance trophy for leading
the Philadelphia Eagles to their first Super Bowl title.
The Minnesota Vikings earned best moment honors for beating the New Orleans
Saints on the last play of the NFL championship game.
Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale won in the best play category for hitting a
buzzer-beater in the NCAA women's title game.
The best coach award was given posthumously to Aaron Feis, Scott Beigel and
Chris Hixon, all of whom died in the mass shooting at Florida's Marjory
Stoneman Douglas High School.
Former quarterback Jim Kelly received the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance for
his struggle with jaw cancer. Fellow NFL Hall of Famers Dan Marino and John
Elway presented Kelly with the honor.