The annual ESPY Awards, created by ESPN in 1993, are the Oscars of the sports world. This year they were held July 16 at what has become the mecca for all glitzy awards shows, the Kodak Theater.
Maybe it is more accurate to note that the ESPYs also resemble the People’s Choice Awards because, in addition to 15 categories decided by the “ESPY Academy,” 18 categories are decided by sports fans voting via the Internet. A wide variety of sports stars are always in attendance, as well as a smattering of Hollywood types. Kiefer Sutherland, Jamie Foxx, Vivica Fox, Penny Marshall, Lara Flynn Boyle and Brandy walked the red carpet this year.
Kobe Bryant, who potentially faces prison time due to recent sexual assault charges, also made an appearance with his apparently very understanding wife. Bryant was all smiles, though he arrived just as the lights were going down and refused all interview requests.
Tennis ace Serena Williams was a favorite with both the fans and the academy, accepting the Best Female Tennis Player and Best Female Athlete awards. She thanked her sibling rival Venus for her support.
“Without her, I wouldn’t be here,” she said. “Whenever she raises the level of her game, I do, too, and that’s how I was able to get to the top.”
Somewhat surprisingly, cyclist Lance Armstrong beat out commercially popular athletes Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds and Tim Duncan for the Best Male Athlete award. Armstrong was not able to personally accept the trophy, due to the fact that he was busily in pursuit of an even more prestigious honor – a fifth Tour de France victory.
Number-one NBA draft pick LeBron James and basketball legend Dr. J presented fellow hoopster Carmelo Anthony with the Best Male College Athlete award. Anthony, who was picked third in the June draft by the Denver Nuggets, gave an exceedingly humble acceptance speech.
“I also want to thank myself,” he said, drawing laughs from the audience. “I put in a lot of hard work day in and day out.”
Though Anthony has yet to prove himself at the NBA level, he seems to have mastered the art of the sound blurb and self-congratulatory rhetoric, two things no self-respecting pro athlete should be without. At least he hasn’t started referring to himself in the third person.
Here is a total rundown of the ESPY winners found at ESPN.com:
Best Play: LSU’s Hail Mary; Best NFL Player: Michael Vick; Best Major League Baseball Player: Barry Bonds; Best NHL Player: Jean-Sebastien Giguere; Best NBA Player: Tim Duncan; Best WNBA Player: Lisa Leslie; Best Driver: Tony Stewart; Best Bowler: Walter Ray Williams Jr.; Best Male Golfer: Tiger Woods; Best Boxer: Roy Jones Jr.; Best Jockey: Jose Santos; Best Female Golfer: Annika Sorenstam; Best Male Tennis Player: Andre Agassi; Best Female Soccer Player: Katia; Best Male Soccer Player: Ronaldo; Best Male Track and Field Athlete: Tim Montgomery,; Best Female Track and Field Athlete: Gail Devers; Best Coach: Jon Gruden; Best Game: Fiesta Bowl; Best Team: Anaheim Angels; Best Breakthrough Athlete: Alfonso Soriano; Best Moment: Pete Sampras winning the US Open; Best Outdoors Athlete: Jay Yelas; Best Disabled Athlete: Marlon Shirley; Best Action Sports Athlete: Shaun White; Best Comeback Athlete: Tommy Maddox; Best Sports Movie: Bend it Like Beckham; Best Female College Athlete: Diana Taurasi; Best Record-Breaking Performance: Emmitt Smith’s rushing record