In a sports year filled with memorable moments, inspiring stories and underdog achievements, the folks of Bristol focused a lot of love Wednesday on LeBron James during the annual ESPY awards.
James took home Male Athlete of the Year, Championship Performance of the Year, and NBA Player of the Year. His team, the Heat, won Team of the Year. A team built to win an NBA Championship is nothing shocking, but the ESPYs are about the best, not the most surprising. Voted on by fans, awards were handed out for the best of the best.
The top female winner was Brittney Griner from Baylor who took home Female Athlete of the Year and Best Female College Athlete. Her dunking highlights led the Baylor Women to an undefeated hoops season.
Two non-voted awards were given to Eric LeGrand and Pat Summitt. LeGrand was presented the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. LeGrand’s college football career was cut short at Rutgers after sustaining a spinal cord injury. He spoke of finding a new dream of inspiring others while telling the rooms of superstar athletes “don’t take anything for granted.” Summit also spoke of inspiring others during her acceptance for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award for her legacy on and off the court (74 of her players went on to coach!). She is facing Alzheimer’s but told the crowd that she and her son “will win” while promising to “keep on, keeping on.”
Jeremy Lin and his NYC Media fueled Linsanity took home the Breakthrough Player of the Year. After bouncing around the league and riding the bench before finally getting a chance, Lin took the biggest leap of the bunch from a nobody to a superstar. He thanked his brother for letting him sleep on his couch and forgiving him for not always cleaning.
There were a couple of surprises. Fans gave Game of the Year to the San Francisco 49ers victory over New Orleans in a Divisional Round that featured four lead changes in the final quarter… and NOT the Cardinals multi-inning Game 6 comeback in the World Series.
Other highlights included Drew Brees taking home “Record Breaking Performance” after besting Dan Marino’s single season passing record in football. The LA Kings received Biggest Upset after having the greatest hockey playoff run in history. There was even room for Tim Tebow who took home the Best Moment award for his ungodly 80-yard TD pass to close out the Steelers in last year’s playoffs. Matthew Stafford took Comeback of the Year and gave a shout out to Detroit who “is experiencing a comeback of their own.” Christian Watford's buzzer beater to knock out Kentucky earned him Best Play.
Additional awards given at a different time:
Coach of the Year – Tom Coughlin, NY Giants
International Player – Lionel Messi, Argentina & Barcelona
NFL Player – Aaron Rogers, Green Bay Packers
MLB Player – Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
NHL Player – Jonathan Quick, LA Kings
MLS Player – David Beckham, LA Galaxy
Driver of the Year – Tony Stewart*
WNBA Player of the Year – Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury
Fighter of the Year – Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Male Golfer – Bubba Stewart
Female Golfer – Cristie Kerr
Male Tennis Player – Novak Djokvic
Female Tennis Player – Maria Sharapova
Male College Athlete – Robert Griffin III
Male Action Sports Athlete – Shaun White
Female Action Sports Athlete – Jamie Anderson
Jockey – Mario Gutierrez*
Male Athlete with a Disability – Kyle Maynard
Female Athlete with a Disability – Jessica Long
Bowler – Sean Rash*
Track and Field – Walter Dix
*Not listed as player or athelete cause let’s be honest… those are sports.
Photo Credit: AP