The 2019 ESPYS celebrated the best in sports, and there were many highlights, as well as numerous awards given to some well-deserving athletes and sports figures.
The United States women’s national soccer team took home the ESPY for best team, three days after they won the 2019 Women’s World Cup 7-0 in the World Cup. Forward Alex Morgan, who scored six goals during the World Cup, also took home an ESPY for the best female athlete.
Milwaukee Bucks forward and NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo won best-athlete and best NBA player, while Dwayne Wade won best moment along with Lindsey Vonn and Rob Gronkowski. Serena Williams won best female tennis player, Canelo Alvarez won best boxer and New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley won best breakthrough athlete.
In one of the top moments of the evening, former U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Kirstie Ennis won the Pat Tillman Award for Service and gave an inspiring acceptance speech. Ennis served in Afghanistan and was injured in a helicopter crash while on active duty in 2012.
ESPN reports Ennis’s left leg was amputated above the knee, and she also suffered “facial trauma, a traumatic brain injury, cervical and lumbar spine trauma, and bilateral shoulder damage.” Ennis said during her speech, “I am one of the lucky ones who came home. Broken, but I’m still here and I still can. So I will continue every day for those who can’t.”
Another memorable moment was basketball Hall of Famer Bill Russell being awarded the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, thanks to his impactful and long-standing work for the civil rights movement. According to NBA.com, Russell walked in the March on Washington in 1963, became the NBA’s first black head coach in 1966 and was given the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2011.
Prospect High School junior varsity football coach Rob Mendez, who was born without arms and legs due to tetra-amelia syndrome, was also honored with the well-deserved Jimmy V award for leading Prospect to the JV football championship during his first year on the sidelines. Mendez said during his speech, “When you dedicate yourself to something and open your mind to different possibilities … you really can go places in this world.”
Former UCLA gymnast and six-time All American Katelyn Ohashi took home two awards, one for best Viral Moment and the other for Play of the Year, but her acceptance speech for the latter honor was a moving two-minute spoken word speech that called out the sexism and body shaming she and other women have faced through cyberbullying.