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LAYOP Week in Review | ESPY Awards 2015

Posted: Jul 17 2015

On Wednesday, The ESPY Awards took place in Los Angeles, California at the Microsoft Theatre, host to other premier red carpet events like the GRAMMYs and EMMYs. The ESPY Awards (which stand for The Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Awards) is the Senior Prom for the world's greatest athletes and entertainers: Jeter, Peyton, LeBron, Steph, Halle and more were all in attendance. This year marked the first time the awards show was broadcasted on network television (ABC). 

Even though The ESPYs bring out the who's who in sports and entertainment every year, they also help raise awareness and money for a better cause. A portion of the proceeds from sales of tickets to the event is donated to the V Foundation, a charity established by collegiate basketball coach and television commentator Jim Valvano to promote cancer research. Valvano announced the creation of the charitable foundation during his acceptance of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award during the inaugural ESPY telecast on March 3, 1993, fifty-five days before Valvano's death from metastatic adenocarcinoma. 

Since its inception in 1993, The ESPY Awards is the type of awards show that makes you remember why sports are so important. For many, playing sports helped teach us life lessons. Sports taught us how to make friends and become a team player. Sports could make us laugh and cry at the same time - they made us human. 

Every year, The ESPYs do a phenomenal job acknowledging past and present athletes for their contributions to their respective sport (Icon Award), athletes who served their country in military battle (Pat Tillman Award for Service), athletes who overcame extreme life circumstances (Jimmy V Award for Perseverance) and athletes who made the most significant contribution in sports and society (Arthur Ashe Courage Award). 

In 2014, the lasting image was the late Stuart Scott and his message about beating cancer each day. He felt that "living life" was the recipe to overcoming cancer. Stuart was right throughout most of his battle with cancer but eventually passed away in January 2015. Last night, cancer brought us another unforgettable story and testimony - Devon and Leah Still.

Devon Still is a NFL player for the Cincinnati Bengals and his beautiful and vibrant daughter, Leah has stage 4 cancer. The news rocked their world as they began to fight cancer together. Through lots of prayers and love, Devon and Leah helped one another get through the initial treatments - her cancer eventually started the remission process. Currently, her cancer has returned and she is undergoing treatments again. Leah beat up cancer once and we pray that she will be able overcome sickness and just be a kid again.

The biggest story of the night was the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award - Caitlyn Jenner. Formerly known as Bruce Jenner, the 1976 Olympic decathlon champion received a standing ovation for publicly announcing her life as a transgender woman. Jenner has fully transitioned from living as a man to a woman and her message is very clear: she feels that transgender people should be respected. Her acceptance of the prestigious award came with controversy and mixed reviews. During her 10-minute speech, she had the support of her family, including son Brody Jenner and step-daughter Kim Kardashian.

I watch the ESPYs Awards each year and it's one of the few award shows that keeps getting better. The on-fied performances by our favorite athletes improve. The inspirational life stories get deeper and more personal. The connection to sports and life is undeniable - it's a huge part of our cultural DNA. Whether we love or hate them, the majority of these athletes and entertainers are blessed to live life at their own pace and positively impact other people's lives. Using their celebrity platform for good use not only can put a smile on one's face, but can also help save a life. 

So, during this tough time without any Basketball and Football, let's all be thankful for being alive. At the end of the day, we're all blessed and it could be a lot worse. 

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