ESPN’s annual sports awards show will the ESPYs give its 2018 Arthur Ashe Courage Award to female athletes who came forward with their horror stories of sexual abuse at the hands of disgraced USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor Larry Nassar.
“For 25 years, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage has been given to those who change the world in important ways, and the future will undoubtedly be different because of the actions of these heroic women,” said Maura Mandt, executive producer of The ESPYs. “This tribute will reflect the awe and admiration these individuals deserve.”
Hundreds of athletes have spoken in court in recent months about the abuse they endured from Nassar, who was trusted and supported for decades. Their strength and resolve helped bring sexual abuse into the public consciousness more than a year before The New York Times and New Yorker exposés on Harvey Weinstein and inspired many others to speak up about their own experiences.
In January, Nassar was sentenced to 40-175 years in prison for his crimes.
“We are honored to recognize the courage of these women at The 2018 ESPYs, to acknowledge the power of their voices and to shine a very well-deserved spotlight on what speaking up, fighting back, and demanding accountability can accomplish,” said Alison Overholt, VP and Editor in Chief of ESPN The Magazine, espnW and The ESPYs. “They have shown us all what it truly means to speak truth to power, and through their bravery, they are making change for future generations..”
Named for the tennis legend who worked to educate the public about HIV/AIDS, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award pays tribute to those who find ways through sports to make a difference far beyond the field of play and impact the world in indelible ways. Recent honorees include Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Caitlyn Jenner and Robin Roberts Nelson Mandela.
ABC will air the 2018 ESPYs live at 8 PM ET/5 PT Wednesday, July 18, from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.