The ESPYs took time out from celebrating the best of sports on the field and court to celebrate some of the heroic and transformative stories off the court.
Amid messages from prominent athletes to do more for their communities, inspirational words from Craig Sager and recognition of some all-time great players retiring from the games this year, there was a special honor and recognition given to a high school student who likely never played a game in front of a television audience or many more people than his family, friends and community.
Yet his sacrifice off the field resonated greatly around the nation.
The ESPYs honored Tennessee high schooler Zaevion Dobson with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Dobson, a 15-year-old high school football player, was tragically killed at the end of last year using himself as a shield to protect others in his house when gunmen opened fire on the house.
It was a tragic reminder of how violence still affects so many young people’s lives but also an uplifting reminder of how good people can still saves lives and be heroes in the face of tragedy.
ESPN aired a 12-minute tribute video that included remarks from President Barack Obama during last night’s broadcast:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 14, 2016
Dobson has been memorialized throughout the nation. The Knoxville, Tenn.-native posthumously received an autographed jersey from the Volunteers with his name on it in recognition of his heroism. There have been other accolades and memorial tributes for his sacrifice.
Zenobia Dobson, Zaevion’s mother, accepted the award on her son’s behalf.