(LOS ANGELES) — The biggest names in professional sports slowed their pace for an evening to walk the red carpet at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles for the 2023 ESPY Awards, which celebrated an impressive year of athletic achievements with a dash of Hollywood glamour.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James took home the award for best record-breaking performance after he broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record of 38,387 points during a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Feb. 7, 2023.
“Nobody works harder, nobody cares more and nobody does more for the game of basketball than Lebron James,” his wife Savannah James said Wednesday night.
LeBron James took the opportunity during his big onstage moment to announce that he’s not going anywhere and will return for his 21st NBA season.
“The real question for me is, can I play without cheating this game? The day I can’t give the game everything on the floor is the day I’ll be done. Lucky for you guys, that day is not today,” James said as the theater erupted with applause.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes paid a visit to the GMA set after his team won the award for best team.
“We grew up playing sports. I don’t know if we ever grew up thinking we’re going to be one of the best team and being the best team of the world,” Mahomes, who also won the award for best athlete, men’s sports, and the award for best NFL player, said after the win.
The Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award went to Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and his wife Lauren Holiday — a former soccer midfielder, two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Cup winner — for the millions of dollars in charitable support the couple has given to minority-owned businesses.
“Jrue and I are not good with awards or attention on us. [Neither] of us — that’s not our favorite thing,” she said with a laugh, speaking with GMA Wednesday night. “Really, it’s about the people that we’re helping.”
After two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time World Cup champion alpine skier Mikaela Shiffrin won best athlete, women’s sports, she told GMA backstage she was “sweating,” adding that she’s rather be flying down an icy hill.
Following in GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts’ footsteps, former members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team accepted this year’s Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for their years-long fight for equal pay.
“Our fight is not over. When you play for the U.S. Women’s National Team, you are handed a torch,” team member Christen Press said onstage Wednesday night. “Now, we are looking to build a world where we create thousands of torches.”
Backstage, former team member Julie Foudy told GMA, “We want every girl out there, every boy out there to understand that both of you have an equal chance of being able to do whatever you want to dream. Now these young girls can go, ‘Oh, I can do that, and I can see that. And I can, most importantly, be that."”
The night hit an emotional apex when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin presented the Pat Tillman Award for Service to the athletic trainers who saved his life after the 24-year-old went into cardiac arrest on the field following a tackle during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in January.
“Damar, first and foremost, thank you for staying alive brother,” Nathan Breske, the Bills’ head athletic trainer, said as he accepted the award.
Continue below for a full list of winners from this year’s ESPYS.
2023 ESPY Award Winners
- Best WNBA Player: A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
- Best UFC Fighter: Jon Jones
- Best Comeback Athlete: Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
- Best Athlete, Men’s Sports: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
- Best Athlete, Women’s Sports: Mikaela Shiffrin, Skiing
- Best Championship Performance: Lionel Messi, Argentina — World Cup Final
- Best Boxer: Claressa Shields
- Best Breakthrough Athlete: Angel Reese, LSU Tigers Women’s Basketball
- Best Play: Justin Jefferson with the catch of the century
- Best Record-Breaking Performance: LeBron James surpasses Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for NBA career scoring record
- Best College Athlete, Men’s Sports: Caleb Williams, USC Football
- Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports: Caitlin Clark, Iowa Women’s Basketball
- Best Athlete with a Disability: Zach Miller, Snowboarding
- Best NFL Player: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
- Best MLB Player: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
- Best NHL Player: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
- Best NBA Player: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
- Best Driver: Max Verstappen, F1
- Best Soccer Player: Lionel Messi, Argentina/PSG
- Best Golfer: Scottie Scheffler
- Best Tennis Player: Novak Djokovic
- Arthur Ashe Award for Courage: U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team
- Jimmy V Award for Perseverance: Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox
- Pat Tillman Award for Service: Buffalo Bills training staff
- Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award: Jrue and Lauren Holiday
- Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award: Jordan Adeyemi, Ashley Badis, Rishan Patel
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