The ESPY Awards have become a rich tradition in sports, but several moments over the course of the evening were much bigger than any game.
Whether it was St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award or ESPN SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott taking home the Jimmy V Award, Wednesday was about the tenacity it takes to be around the sports world.
After an inspirational night, here is the full list of winners and results from the 2014 ESPY Awards.
|Male Athlete||Kevin Durant||Jockey||Victor Espinoza|
|Female Athlete||Ronda Rousey||MLS Player||Tim Cahill|
|Moment||USMNT vs. Ghana||Male U.S. Olympian||Sage Kotsenburg|
|Team||Seattle Seahawks||Female U.S. Olympian||Jamie Anderson|
|Comeback Athlete||Russell Westbrook||International Athlete||Cristiano Ronaldo|
|Breakthrough Athlete||Richard Sherman||WNBA Player||Maya Moore|
|Championship Performance||Kawhi Leonard||Male Golfer||Bubba Watson|
|Game||Auburn vs. Alabama||Female Golfer||Michelle Wie|
|Upset||Mercer over Duke||Male Tennis Player||Rafael Nadal|
|NFL Player||Peyton Manning||Female Tennis Player||Maria Sharapova|
|NBA Player||Kevin Durant||Male College Athlete||Doug McDermott|
|MLB Player||Miguel Cabrera||Female College Athlete||Breanna Stewart|
|NHL Player||Sidney Crosby||Male Athlete with a Disability||Declan Farmer|
|Driver||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Female Athlete with a Disability||Jamie Whitmore|
|Coach/Manager||Gregg Popovich||Male Action Sports Athlete||Nyjah Huston|
|Fighter||Floyd Mayweather||Female Action Sports Athlete||Jamie Anderson|
|Bowler||Pete Weber||Play||Chris Davis in Iron Bowl|
|Pat Tillman Award||Josh Sweeney||Record-Breaking Performance||Peyton Manning|
|Arthur Ashe Award||Michael Sam||Jimmy V Award||Stuart Scott|
Moment of the Night: Michael Sam Wins Arthur Ashe Courage Award
Many awards were given out on Wednesday night, but one of the most impactful was Sam winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Sam became the first openly gay player drafted to the NFL when the St. Louis Rams selected him in the seventh round of April’s draft.
Sam’s decision to come out polarized the sports world, but his courage to be true to himself and not worry about what anyone else said made him deserving of the award.
Ashe was an inspirational tennis player who contracted AIDS during open-heart surgery. His tireless work to raise awareness late in his life set the tone for athletes to follow, and no professional has taken up that mantle and opened more eyes this year than Sam.
The official Twitter account of the ESPYs shared some of the moving moments from Sam during his acceptance speech:
“I am here tonight to say the lessons I’ve learned about love and respect and being true to yourself will never leave me.” - @MichaelSamNFL— ESPYS 2014 (@ESPYS) July 17, 2014
Missouri football multimedia director Kathryn Lucchesi talked about how much the speech meant to her and how proud she was of the former Tigers star:
Michael Sam's speech was simply amazing. Incredible. I am so, so proud of him for getting up on stage and sharing his heart. #mizzoufamily— Kathryn Lucchesi (@KatLucchesi) July 17, 2014
Baseball scout Joe Hamrahi spoke about how he almost missed one of the highlights of the night:
I was about to turn off the ESPYs but glad I didn't. That acceptance speech by Michael Sam just made a difficult day a lot better.— Joe Hamrahi (@JHamrahi) July 17, 2014
Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star talked about how the genuine speech stripped away the pageantry that has become the ESPY Awards and made people feel real emotion:
Michael Sam with a powerful, authentic moment interrupting a manufactured TV show. Incredibly well done.— Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) July 17, 2014
The key now for Sam will be translating the mental strength he has shown during this process to the field for the Rams. As a pass-rushing defensive end/outside linebacker, he will be fighting for a niche role on the team and must show his versatility.
Will Michael Sam blossom into an impact player for the St. Louis Rams?
In 14 games last season for Missouri, he racked up an impressive 48 total tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. While translating those numbers to the NFL will be tough, his mental fortitude will give him an edge over the men he is competing against.
Sam’s play on the field will be the ultimate determining factor in how he is viewed by the football world, but on Wednesday, his speech was about so much more than sports.
*Stats and information via ESPN.com.