Some of the biggest stars in sports and entertainment converged in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre for the 16th annual Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards or as they’re more popularly known, the ESPY’s.
Winning big, with three awards each, were the 2008 Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants, and the most dominant athlete in sports today, Tiger Woods. The New York Giants won ESPYs in the categories: “Best Game,” “Best Upset” and “Best Play,” the latter for David Tyree’s epic “helmet catch” of an Eli Manning pass that kept the Giants’ Super Bowl game-winning drive alive.
Woods took down “Best Championship Performance,” his fifth “Best Male Athlete” and his fourth straight “Best Golfer.” Like Woods, tennis player Roger Federer won his category for the fourth straight year. Other repeat winners were tennis’ Maria Sharapova, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., NHL star Sidney Crosby and bowler Norm Duke.
Joining the few multiple award winners was the number one pick of the WNBA draft Candance Parker, who walked away with “Best Female Athlete” and “Best Female College Athlete.” For the best 5 years, winners were determined by an online fan vote aside from following special awards:
“Best Comeback” ESPY goes to Texas Ranger outfielder Josh Hamilton who has battled the demons of drug addition to become the front-runner for the American League Most Valuable Player.
“Jimmy V” ESPY for perseverance awarded to former Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett. Everett sustained what was thought to be a paralyzing spinal cord injury during the 2007 season opener, but after rehabilitation, he is walking again and is a spokesman for Rocawear.
“Arthur Ashe Courage Award,” which recognizes individuals whose contributions transcend sports, was presented by Samuel L. Jackson and Steve Nash to 1968 Olympic Gold and Bronze medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos who raised the black power fist on the victory stand as the national anthem played. The two described their action as a representation of not only the American struggle for racial equality but the universal struggle for basic human rights. That powerful image has made an indelible mark in the rebel spirit of hip-hop.
Other ESPY winners included Tyson Gay (“Best Track” & “Field Athlete”), Alex Rodriguez (“Best Baseball Player”), Kobe Bryant (“Best NBA Player”) and the Boston Celtics (its first “Best Team” ESPY) During the acceptance speech of that honor Ray Allen gloated, “Another win in L.A.”
Ashanti, Fergie, Terrell Owens, Jet Li, Forest Whitaker and Venus Williams were among the presenters, while Grammy-winning rapper Lupe Fiasco entertained the crowd as part of this year’s house band.