Although Danica Patrick was far from a good host, the 2018 ESPY’s acknowledged the greatest unsung heroes and brought light to some of the biggest issues facing our current society. To see the sports community come together to make a difference in the community is special. Domestic violence, drunk driving, sexual assault, and mass shootings seem to be controlling the news these days. There are plenty of athletes doing the right thing and paying it forward but the media doesn’t show enough of that. Not whether or not the league is going to suspend a player for failing to kneel for the national anthem or watching a man accused of sexually assaulting young women athletes all over the news. Sports fans would like to hear more about sports and the good they do for us off the field and less about suspensions and jail time. Let us begin by pointing out the notable powerful speeches.
Donovan Mitchell, the star from the Utah Jazz, who wasn’t sure if he was even going to enter the NBA draft last year. Going from a late first round pick from Louisville to winning an ESPY as the Best Breakthrough athlete in 2018. Joining Mitchell with a meaningful speech was Nick Foles, winning Best Championship Performance. Foles and Mitchell had a common theme for reaching out to young athletes. Donovan Mitchell kicked it off while talking about his mom and sister taking 14 hour car rides from NY to Louisville to make sure he was staying confident and being relaxed. Pointing to parents willing to put in the time to help kids reach their dreams.
To all the kids watching, don’t let anybody put limits on what you can do. People love to do that nowadays. Go out there and have fun, enjoy life, enjoy your passion. Don’t let anybody put a limit on yourself. Your as good as you can be. For all the kids out there, just do you and have fun. Thanks. – Donovan Mitchell during ESPY’s
Foles didn’t prepare a speech but did give special attention to his biggest supporters in life, his wife and the lord above, Jesus Christ. Nick Foles is as good a person this league has. The NFL needs more representatives like Nick Foles. Like Mitchell, Foles stressed to never put limits on yourself. Foles was a backup at Arizona, then took the starting job and never gave it up. His big play ability on the big stage is what makes Foles great. Having good character and having an outlook on life, like Foles, is what makes this story great, and it is what makes his speech so powerful. Foles has led a very unique career so far, but he wouldn’t want it any other way.
There’s a lot of kids watching this… There’s going to be people who doubt you. Don’t listen to them. What matters is what’s in here (points to heart), and the people that love you, that support you. Go out there everyday and be Bold. Thank you. Nick Foles
The next meaningful award was the award for Best Coach, given to the 3 coaches at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL that gave their life to protect the students. So far, in 2018, there have been 13 school shootings. These 3 courageous men put their life on the line. In February, a former student opened fire on campus and started a school shooting that would last for over an hour. The 3 men didn’t hesitate to try to stop the shooter and saved a lot of lives as it took the police about an hour to get to the scene. Scott Biegel, Chris Hixon, and Aaron Feis were honored for their heroism in getting the kids out and were shielding kids from random gun fire. All 3 men were represented by their families to accept the ESPY for Best Coach. It’s reassuring to know that there are good people out there like Feis, Hixon, and Biegel, who made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of their students.
The Pat Tillman Award for Service is always a special honor. To be mentioned in the same sentence as the late great Pat Tillman, that is very special.. Jake Wood has molded his career after Tillman. He hung up his football cleats after watching the fateful events of 9-11. He was playing at Wisconsin at the time. Wood was a sergeant in the US Marine Corps. Deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq as a scout sniper and earned the Navy-Marine Commendation Medal, Wood gave his all to this country and looks to live the rest of his life doing so in a disaster relief effort group he started back in 2010. It went from 8 Volunteers to over 50,000 volunteers and growing.
So far the Tillman Scholar Network has eclipsed 15 million dollars, 525 scholars, 3.6 Average GPA, 96% employment rate, and a 98% graduation rate. These are the kinds of statistics that Pat Tillman would want attached to his great name. Anyone that is in this scholar network better be ready to get to work because you know that Pat Tillman would have done it. Jake Wood is living out the Tillman Legacy with dedication and honor. The members of Team Rubicon live by a common theme. Wood said, “Hard work in the pursuit of a common goal forces collaboration and appreciation. I have to believe if we all served in an infantry platoon, or played on a championship team, that we’d care more about what we have in common than what makes us different.” These words are very strong and very attainable if society worked together the way Team Rubicon does on a daily basis. The sacrifices these men and women are making are invaluable and will be the driving force that moves us in the right direction.
If Americans treated each other every day like they do after disasters, we’d live in a truly special place. – Jake Wood, saying at Team Rubicon
The Fight that Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly continues to fight is remarkable. As well as watching his son defy the odds of a fatal disease by exceeding the average life span of any child with the disease. There is no one more tough than Jim Kelly, he continues to get back up after life knocks him down. Something he has done his whole life. Reaching the Super Bowl FOUR straight seasons is a special accomplishment. To come back so mentally ready to repeat the path to the Super Bowl is something you rarely see, unless you are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick with the Patriots. Jim Kelly was in the illustrious 1983 NFL Draft which included Dan Marino and John Elway. Fittingly, Elway and Marino presented Kelly with the Jimmy V award. There is nobody that has dealt with suffering more than Kelly. Kelly, who retired shortly after the news he was having a son. Unfortunately for Kelly, he was never able to witness his son Hunter’s first words. Kelly’s son was diagnosed with a fatal disease of the nervous system called Krabbe disease. The average age of a child with Krabbe disease is about 2 years maybe less. Like Kelly, Hunter was a fighter, he was Jim Kelly’s hero and soldier. Hunter lived for an incredible 8 years. Kelly has taken Hunter’s strength and is currently using it to battle is hardest battle of his life. Jim is a fighter and has a fighter’s mentality.
Make a difference today for someone who is fighting for their tomorrow. – Jim Kelly
Now let’s dig into the most courageous award of the night, the Arthur Ashe award for courage. Awarded to the 141 women who spoke up about the creepiness of Larry Nassar, not even going to give him the doctor title, I guess its inmate Nassar now. Aly Raisman is the most recognized athlete up there, but she would be the first to tell you, that she is only a very small piece in the big picture. This group of young women liked to be known as ‘the survivor sisters’, and nobody is arguing on that. This is a story the world needs to hear, we can’t have another Larry Nassar loose, to abuse more women physically and emotionally. Aly gave this group of women a powerful voice that had to be heard. The first complaint made against Nassar came in 1997 but the committee said, “It’s ok., He’s a Doctor.He knows what he’s doing. Don’t worry.” Well, turns out he knew exactly what he was doing and it is incredibly sad it took 21 years from the first complaint to finally do something about it. All the victims that could have been free of this man’s horrible acts had the NCAA or Olympic committee done something in the late 90’s instead of the late teens. They were more concerned with reputation and those medals. It was very special to watch a group of women stand together on the big stage and receive such a prestigious award. The real award for these women’s athletes is seeing Nassar spend the rest of his pathetic, meaningless life in prison, unless some other inmates get to him first, the only thing guaranteed is that Nassar will never see the light of day again.
The 140 ladies on this stage represent hundreds more who are not with us tonight. Make no mistake, we are here on this stage to present an image for the world to see: a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage. – Sarah Klein, the first victim of Nassar
The past 2 years have been some of the hardest times this society has seen in a very long time, if ever. To see that there are good people out there like Jake Wood and the 3 coaches that gave their lives that day in FL, in a time when we need it most. A story of courage that the ‘survivor sisters’ showed against the NCAA and Olympic committee. Can’t wait to see what the rest of 2018 has in store for us.