The Golden State Warriors took center stage at ESPYS on Wednesday night, with host Stephen Curry taking home multiple awards and drawing attention to the plight of WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is incarcerated in Russia.
Curry, who won ESPYS for Best NBA Player and Best Record Performance, joined WNBA players Nneka Ogwumike and Skylar Diggins-Smith to address Griner’s status during the show. The United States considers Griner to have been wrongly imprisoned.
“It has now been 153 nights since BG was unjustly imprisoned thousands of miles from home, away from her family, away from her friends, away from her team,” Diggins-Smith said at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. “All of this time, we’ve kept her on our minds and in our hearts, although we know that’s not nearly enough to bring her home, y’all.”
Wearing Griner’s Phoenix Mercury jersey under his tracksuit, Curry noted the efforts that went into freeing Griner.
“But while we hope for the best, we urge the entire global sports community to continue standing up for them,” he said. “She is one of us, the team of athletes in this room and around the world tonight. A team that has nothing to do with politics or global conflicts.”
They were applauded by Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, who was in the audience.
US soccer star Megan Rapinoe also drew attention to Griner by accepting her ESPYS award for Best Game.
“I honestly think what we saw tonight is the importance of sport and how much we bring and how much we can achieve in the world with our collective power,” Rapinoe said. “Every time we say her name, it puts pressure on everyone – puts pressure on the administration, puts pressure on Russia. The most striking thing is that BG is not here. BG deserves to be free.
“We can support them more and let them know that we love them so much.”
In addition to Curry’s two awards, his teammate Klay Thompson won the Best Comeback award. Thompson made his triumphant return to action on Jan. 9 after a more than two-year hiatus while recovering from two career-changing injuries.
“It’s just an incredible honor,” said Thompson.
The Warriors also took home the Best Team award.
It was the 29th year of ESPYS, an event that helps raise awareness and funds for the V Foundation for Cancer Research. This charity was founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach Jim Valvano at the first ESPYS in 1993.
Jimmy V Award for Endurance
Watch the full speech by Dick Vitale after accepting the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at ESPYS 2022.
Legendary ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale, 83, was the recipient of this year’s award.
Last August, he announced that he had undergone multiple surgeries to remove melanoma. In October he announced that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma. His chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma forced Vitale to withdraw from ESPN’s college basketball coverage.
Vitale announced in April that he is cancer-free.
“I’m sitting here and I’m telling you that it’s obviously been a tough eight months,” said Vitale, who thanked his wife Lorraine and family. “If you know someone who is battling cancer, send a message, send prayers. This news picked me up at the darkest moment. I listen to Jimmy’s [Valvano] Words in my head: ‘Don’t give up, don’t give up.’
“We will not stop chasing the dream. Jimmy’s dream was to beat cancer and we have to do that.”
Best Athlete, Women’s Sport
Katie Ledecky sends an inspirational message to young athletes in her speech for Best Athlete in Women’s Sports at ESPYS.
Swimming star Katie Ledecky took home the award, winning gymnast Sunisa Lee, Chicago Sky star Candace Parker and Oksana Masters, a cross-country skier, cyclist and biathlete.
At the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Ledecky won two gold medals to bring her career individual gold medal count to six. At the FINA World Championships that summer, she won four gold medals and became the most decorated swimmer at the event with 22 world medals in her career.
In accepting her award, Ledecky urged young athletes to “find something that you really love, that you’re good at, that can be a positive force in our world, something that can inspire others, something that can help someone else.” , anything can change our world.”
“I think there are so many heroes, not just in sports but all around us,” she added. “Look at these people as role models and get the gold.”
Best Athlete, Men’s Sport
Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani took home the award in that category, beating Curry, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid.
Ohtani also won the trophy for the best MLB player against Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees and Jorge Soler of the Atlanta Braves.
Ohtani was the unanimous winner of last fall’s American League MVP award, amassing 46 home runs and making 23 starts on the mound for the Angels.
Arthur Ashe Prize for Courage
Vitali Klitschko, Hall of Fame boxer and mayor of Kyiv, was honored with the award.
The former heavyweight champion has been the mayor of the Ukrainian capital since 2014 and has long been an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, Klitschko has been one of the faces of the resistance along with his younger brother and fellow Hall of Famer Wladimir. The Klitschkos took up arms in a territorial defense battalion in Kyiv; Fellow boxers Vasiliy Lomachenko and Oleksandr Usyk followed suit in other parts of Ukraine.
Best Breakthrough Athlete
Eileen Gu, one of the 2022 Winter Olympics breakout stars, was rightfully awarded the ESPY. The preeminent California-born freestyle skier, who represented China at the Games, won two gold medals (big air, halfpipe) and a silver medal (slopestyle) while competing in Beijing, her mother’s hometown.
Eighteen-year-old Gu, juggling a busy schedule and facing enormous expectations, has become the first freeski athlete to win a medal in three events at a single Olympiad.
“That’s crazy!” shouted a surprised Gu after the victory. In her speech, she thanked her mother — who is “showing me what it means to be a strong, confident woman” — and her grandmother, along with the “many pioneering female athletes” who came before her, many of whom were in the same space.
Gu also gave a salute to “the girls who will come after me” who will advance freestyle skiing.
Best championship performance
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp won the ESPY for doing exactly what he’s been doing all season: delivering when it counted. He caught the game-winning 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford with 1:25 left to give the Rams their second Super Bowl championship and first Los Angeles title since 1951.
Kupp, who also won the NFL’s treble crown by leading the league in catches, yards and touchdowns, finished the Super Bowl with eight receptions for 92 yards and two points against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Rams’ SoFi Stadium.
Kupp thanked his wife Anna and the two sons who lived with their grandparents and to whom Kupp promised an “extra dessert” for the evening. He called the ESPY “a team award” and thanked Rams D-Tackle and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, who was in attendance.
“It’s really an honor to be alone in this room with so many people playing at the height of their careers,” said Kupp at the end of his speech.
Additional winners announced:
Pat Tillman Award for Service: Gretchen Evans
Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award: Albert Pujols, Cardinals of St. Louis
Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Awards: Noor Abukaram, Kendall Dudley, Sydney Moore, Alicia Serratos, and Lucy Westlake
Best NWSL Player: Ashley Hatch, Washington Spirit
Best MLS Player: Carlos Vela, Los Angeles Soccer Club
Best Disabled Athlete, Men’s Sport: Brad Snyder, Paratriathlon
Best Disabled Athlete, Women’s Sports: Jessica Long, swimming
Best Athlete, Men’s Action Sports: Eli Tomac, Supercross
Best Athlete, Women’s Action Sports: Eileen Gu, skiing
Best College Athlete, Men’s Sport: Bryce Young, Alabama Football
Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports: Jocelyn Alo, Oklahoma softball
Best International Athlete, Men’s Soccer: Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain
Best International Athlete, Women’s Soccer: Sam KerrChelsea
Best MLB Player: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
Best MMA Fighter: Karl Oliveira
Best NBA Player: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
Best NFL Player: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Best WNBA Player: Candace Parker, Chicago Sky
Best NHL Player: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
Best Athlete, Men’s Golf: JustinThomas
Best Athlete, Women’s Golf: Nelly Korda
Best Athlete, Men’s Tennis: Rafael Nadal
Best Female Athlete, Women’s Tennis: Emma Raducanu
Best Bowler: Kyle squad
Best Boxer: Tyson Fury
Best Driver: Kyle Larson, NASCAR
Best Game: The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Buffalo Bills in overtime
Best Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Best Olympian, Men’s Sport: Caeleb Dressel, swimming
Best Olympian, Women’s Sport: Katie Ledecky, swimming
Best WWE Moment: Cody Rhodes returns to WWE at WrestleMania
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
https://www.espn.com/espys/story/_/id/34273918/golden-state-warriors-star-stephen-curry-hosts-espys-brings-awareness-detained-wnba-star-brittney-griner Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry hosts ESPYS, brings awareness to detained WNBA star Brittney Griner