2014 ESPY Winners Overshadowed By A Stirring Speech By Stewart Scott
Wednesday night, the best in sports gathered at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and saluted the best (and worst) of the past year. L.A. Clipper Center Blake Griffin and Rapper/Actor Drake turned the 2014 ESPY Awards into the Blake and Drake/Drake and Blake Show, with several very entertaining skits and musical stylings, which addressed everything from Donald Sterling to second place finishers in an evening that saw the show stolen at the end by ESPN Anchor Stuart Scott, who is currently in a fight for his life with cancer.
Oklahoma Thunder Guard Kevin Durant was the big winner on the night, early on taking home the award as NBA Player of the Year, but saved the best for last, taking home the Male Athlete of the Year award to cap off the evening. MMA fighter Ronda Rousey captrued the nod as Female Athlete of the Year, but she was unable to accept the award in person, as she was recovering from knee and thumb surgery on Tuesday. Another Thunder star, guard Russell Westbrook, took home ESPY hardware, garnering the award for Comeback Player of the Year, while Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks were named Team of the Year.
But the night was about more than just laughter and shiny trophies. Emotions stirred when former collegiate hockey player and Marine Corps Sargeant Josh Sweeney received the Innaugural Pat Tillman Service Award. Sweeney, a Purple Heart Recipient who lost both legs to a land mine while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, scored the only goal in the gold medal game in sled hockey at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi. Later in the evening St. Louis Ram defensive end Michael Sam received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Sam, the first openinly gay man to be drafted by the NFL, received the award for overcoming a childhood of poverty; he was accompanied to the event by his Missouri Tiger coach Gary Pinkel and Ram head coach Jeff Fisher.
But the emotional apex of the evening was reserved for ESPN anchor Stuart Scott. Scott received the Jim Valvano Perseverance Award, given each year to the sports figure who has overcome great physical and personal adversity.
Scott is currently fighting appendiceal cancer, the third battle he has waged with the disease. Since being diagnosed in 2007, Scott has endured 58 infusions of chemotherapy and has undergone six abdomen surgeries. Scott was in the hospital as recently as last Friday, and admitted that as recently as Sunday, he was unsure if he was going to be able to appear at Wednesday night’s ceremonies, having undergone four procedures during his seven day stay last week. In his acceptance speech, the 48-year old father of two told the world exactly why he could “never give up.”
His speech was truly “cooler than the other side of the pillow.”
“Dont give up…don’t EVER give up!”