Los Angeles Lakers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Michael Phelps among the Night’s Big Winners; Special Message From President Barack Obama To Arthur Ashe Courage Award Honoree President Nelson Mandela at the 17th Annual ESPYs, Hosted by Samuel L. Jackson
Tennis Ace Serena Williams Takes Home an ESPY for Best Female Tennis Player; Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James Honored as Best NBA Player; U.S. Olympians Recognized in Several Categories; The Fifth-Straight Best in Sport Wins for Roger Federer and Tiger Woods
The 2009 ESPYs co-presented by Under Armour and Land Rover to be televised Sunday, July 19 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN HD.
The NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers added to their trophy collection, winning ESPYs in two categories: Best Team and Best Coach/Manager for Phil Jackson, his third overall ESPY. The Pittsburgh Steelers were honored for Best Game and Best Play, the latter for Santonio Holmes’ brilliant catch of a Ben Roethlisberger pass in the corner of the end zone with 35 seconds left that gave the Steelers a record, sixth Super Bowl title. Michael Phelps broke Tiger Woods’ five-year streak winning the Best Male Athlete ESPY, and took two more trophies home for Best US Olympian and the Best Championship Performance for becoming the first athlete to win eight gold medals in one Olympics. Winning his fifth straight ESPY for Best Golfer, Woods’ win builds his record to 22, more than anyone in ESPYs history.
Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks took home her third overall ESPY winning Best WNBA Player. Best International Male Athlete went to sprinter Usain Bolt of Jamaica for setting an Olympic and world record time of 9.69 in the 100 meters, and becoming the first man in history to set world records in all three events at a single Olympics. Other Olympic ESPY winners are Nastia Liukin for Best Female Athlete, and the U.S. Swim Team’s thrilling finish in the Olympic relay for Best Moment with veteran team member Jason Lezak hitting the wall first ahead of Alain Bernard of France, the world-record holder in the 100-meter freestyle at the time.
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award — which recognizes individuals whose contributions transcend sports — was awarded to Nelson Mandela, with a special taped message from President Barack Obama followed by a presentation by Serena and Venus Williams to his daughter Zindzi Mandela and grandson Zondwa Mandela. President Nelson Mandela, who at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa delighted black and white sports fans across the country by wearing a Springbok rugby shirt and cap, presented the William Webb Ellis Cup to South African captain Francois Pienaar following the victory of the host team. This iconic gesture helped to unite a previously divided nation through a shared passion for sport, and further cemented the transition from apartheid to democracy. The Arthur Ashe Courage Award coincides with Mandela Day, which will fall on July 18th, Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Mandela Day will act as a global call to action for people to recognize their individual power to make an imprint and help change the world around them for the better.
In another emotional moment, Northern State University basketball coach Don Meyer was presented the Jimmy V ESPY for Perseverance, in honor of the late Jim Valvano and The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Meyer refused to give up on life while battling cancer and surviving a major car crash in the same year.
The ESPY for Best Comeback was awarded this year to swimmer Dara Torres who, after an eight-year absence and at 40 years old, competed in the 2008 Olympics, winning three silver medals.
Other ESPY winners included Roger Federer, who won his fifth straight ESPY in the Best Male Tennis Player category, Shaun White, who won his fifth ESPY for Best Male Action Sports Athlete, Jimmie Johnson and his second ESPY for Best Driver and Lorena Ochoa, who brought home two ESPYs for Best International Female Athlete and Best Female Golfer. Other winners included Sidney Crosby (Best NHL Player), Calvin Borel (Best Jockey), Norm Duke (Best Bowler), Manny Pacquiaio (Best Fighter), Landon Donovan (Best MLS Player) and Larry Fitzgerald (Best NFL Player).
In addition to those named above, this year’s guest presenters included, Chris Berman, Jeff Gordon, Wyclef Jean, Rashida Jones, Miranda Kerr (Victoria’s Secret Angel), Rob Lowe, Seth Meyers (Saturday Night Live), Marisa Miller (Victoria’s Secret Angel), Demi Moore, Danica Patrick, Jeremy Piven, Jaime Pressly, Zachary Quinto (Star Trek), Condoleezza Rice, Andy Samberg (Saturday Night Live), Stuart Scott, Olivia Wilde, Venus Williams, will.i.am and Stevie Wonder.
Below is a complete list of 2009 winners.
The 2009 ESPYs – WINNERS
ARTHUR ASHE COURAGE AWARD: President Nelson Mandela
JIMMY V AWARD FOR PERSEVERANCE: Don Meyer, Northern State University coach
BEST COMEBACK: Dara Torres, Olympic swimmer.
BEST IN SPORT
BEST FEMALE ATHLETE: Nastia Liukin, Gymnastics
BEST MALE ATHLETE: Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimming
BEST MOMENT: US Swim team wins thrilling finish in Olympic relay
BEST TEAM: Los Angeles Lakers
BEST COACH/MANAGER: Phil Jackson, Los Angeles Lakers
BEST GAME: Steelers vs. Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII
BEST CHAMPIONSHIP PERFORMANCE: Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimming
BEST PLAY: Roethlisberger to Holmes Super Bowl Winning TD
BEST UPSET: US Soccer shocks Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinals
BEST BREAKTHROUGH ATHLETE: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
BEST RECORD BREAKING PERFORMANCE: Michael Phelps, Olympic Swimming
BEST SPORTS MOVIE: The Express: The Ernie Davis Story
BEST MALE COLLEGE ATHLETE: Tim Tebow, Florida Football
BEST FEMALE COLLEGE ATHLETE: Maya Moore, Connecticut Women’s Basketball
BEST MALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY: Jason Lester, Ironman Triathlete
BEST FEMALE ATHLETE WITH A DISABILITY: Erin Popovich, Swimming
BEST INTERNATIONAL MALE ATHLETE: Usain Bolt (Jamaica, Sprinter)
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEMALE ATHLETE: Lorena Ochoa (Mexico, Golf)
BEST BASEBALL PLAYER: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
BEST NBA PLAYER: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
BEST WNBA PLAYER: Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks
BEST NFL PLAYER: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
BEST NHL PLAYER: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
BEST MLS PLAYER: Landon Donovan, Los Angeles Galaxy
BEST MALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE: Shaun White, Skateboarding/Snowboarding
BEST FEMALE ACTION SPORT ATHLETE: Maya Gabeira, Surfing
BEST BOWLER: Norm Duke
BEST DRIVER: Jimmie Johnson
BEST FIGHTER: Manny Pacquiao, Boxing
BEST MALE GOLFER: Tiger Woods
BEST FEMALE GOLFER: Lorena Ochoa
BEST JOCKEY: Calvin Borel
BEST MALE TENNIS PLAYER: Roger Federer
BEST FEMALE TENNIS PLAYER: Serena Williams
BEST US MALE OLYMPIAN: Michael Phelps, Swimming
BEST US FEMALE OLYMPIAN: Shawn Johnson, Gymnastics
LAND ROVER “ICON” AWARD: Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals
UNDER ARMOUR ALL AMERICA MOMENT: Andre Debose and Russell Shepard, Football
The ESPYs gather top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. The 2009 ESPYs will recognize both sport-specific achievements, such as “Best MLB Player” and “Best WNBA Player,” and best-in-sport winners, such as “Best Team” or “Best Female Athlete” that pit nominees from different sports against each other. The ESPYs honor ESPN’s commitment to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a partnership launched with the late Jim Valvano at the inaugural ESPYs in 1993.