ESPY Awards 2021: Nominees, Presenters, Host, Predictions and More

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJuly 9, 2021

Japan's Naomi Osaka holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after defeating United States Jennifer Brady in the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021.(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Andy Brownbill/Associated Press

This July has been filled with huge sporting events. The Stanley Cup Final took place, and the NBA Finals are still going on. The MLB All-Star Game is coming up, as are the Olympics. Not to mention, both Wimbledon and the UEFA European Championship are currently unfolding.

But it's also a good time for reflection. A year ago, the sports world was on pause because of the coronavirus pandemic. And it's been great to get back to a point where champions are being crowned and high-caliber athletes are competing on a daily basis.

On Saturday night, more reflection will take place, as the 2021 ESPYs are set to take place at The Rooftop at Pier 17 at the Seaport in New York City. The awards show will air live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.

Here's everything else you need to know heading into this year's ESPYs.


Nominees, Predictions for Top Awards

Picks in bold

Best Athlete, Men's Sports

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lewis Hamilton, F1
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers


Best Athlete, Women's Sports

Simone Biles, Gymnastics
Amanda Nunes, UFC
Naomi Osaka, Tennis
Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm


Best Breakthrough Athlete

LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Crystal Dangerfield, Minnesota Lynx
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Chase Young, Washington Football Team


Best Team

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL
Stanford Cardinal, NCAA women's basketball
Baylor Bears, NCAA men's basketball
Alabama Crimson Tide, NCAA football
Oklahoma Sooners, NCAA softball
Seattle Storm, WNBA
Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB

Full list of nominees available at ESPN.com


ESPYs Preview

This year, actor Anthony Mackie is serving as the host of the ESPYs. Meanwhile, former NFL tight end Vernon Davis will be the "voice of the ESPYs," according to a press release, as he'll introduce the presenters for each award throughout the night.

And there are a ton of notable athletes set to attend the event. Women's tennis player Naomi Osaka, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski and Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young are among those who will be at the ESPYs.

While the show will be entertaining, the focus will remain on the incredible sports moments that have taken place over the past year.

"After a year of canceled competitions, empty stadium seats and athletic careers cut short or left to languish in limbo, we're delighted that The ESPYS has the opportunity to celebrate the return of sports," said Rob King, Senior Vice President and Editor-At-Large ESPN Content, in a statement. "Anthony will make a fantastic host because he is equal parts sports fan and entertainer. Plus he knows a thing or two about heroic moments."

It has the potential to be a big night for the Buccaneers. Not only are they nominated for Best Team, but Tom Brady could take home another top honor, as he's one of the four nominees for Best Athlete, Men's Sports.

When the Bucs were 7-5 heading into their Week 13 bye in the 2020 NFL season, it seemed unlikely they could potentially be receiving these honors. However, they won eight straight games to end the season, which included notching three straight playoff wins on the road before topping the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.

It was Brady's first season with Tampa Bay after he spent his first 20 years of his NFL career with the New England Patriots. Yet it took only one season for him to lead the Bucs to the second Super Bowl title in franchise history.

Osaka will be at the ESPYs, and it's possible she could hear her name called as one of the other big winners of the night. At this point last year, the 23-year-old had won two Grand Slam titles in her career. Now, she's up to four.

Not only did Osaka win the 2020 U.S. Open, but she dominated at the 2021 Australian Open, dropping only one set while winning seven straight matches. Among her most impressive victories was a straight-set win over Serena Williams in the semifinals.

No matter who wins these top ESPYs, all of the nominees will be recognized for their impressive performances that got them to this point. It was another great year in sports, and it will be fun to look back at all of the exciting moments that have transpired since last summer.