On Wednesday evening, the biggest names in sports and entertainment descended on the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles to celebrate the year’s best moments in sports at “The 2019 ESPYS Presented by Capital One.”
The show was hosted by comedian Tracy Morgan and aired live on ABC. Morgan’s opening monologue kicked off the night on a high note—the diehard sports fan brought the laughs while discussing his recent sports car dust-up and ribbed former New York Giant Odell Beckham Jr. on his departure for the Cleveland Browns.
The evening’s first award went to NFL Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley, who was named Best Breakthrough Athlete. Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Actress Gabrielle Union presented Barkley with the award. Best College Athlete went to first overall NBA draft pick Zion Williamson, who was drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans following a standout season with Duke. The Los Angeles Rams took home the award for Best Game for their 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in a riveting battle. Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff accepted the award together and dedicated it to a group of first responders who were battling the California fires while they were competing on the field.
The Best Moment honor celebrated the impressive careers of Lindsey Vonn, Rob Gronkowski and Dwyane Wade, titans of their respective sports who all retired this year. The winner of the Best Play bracket was UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi‘s incredible perfect 10 routine, which also won the new award, Best Viral Sports Moment. Two-time World Cup winner Alex Morgan was named Best Female Athlete and NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo took home two awards for Best Male Athlete and Best NBA Player.
Each year, “The ESPYS” recognizes individuals in the world of sports who have demonstrated admirable perseverance, courage and strength in the face of adversity with three marquee awards: the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage and the Pat Tillman Award for Service. GRAMMY® award-winning artist Usher presented the Pat Tillman Award for Service to U.S. Marine Sgt. Kirstie Ennis, who was injured on a tour in Afghanistan and has since dedicated her life to providing education and opportunity in the outdoors through the Kirstie Ennis Foundation. Later in the show, Russell Wilson and Ciara presented the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance to Rob Mendez, a high school football coach without arms or legs who led his team to the league championship game in his first year as head coach and inspired millions more with his determination and “who says I can’t” attitude.
Former NBA Player Kobe Bryant gave an impassioned speech to present the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage to the legendary Boston Celtics center Bill Russell, who received the award for his dedication to fighting for social justice and his lifelong commitment to ensuring opportunity for all young people. Russell co-founded MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, the national nonprofit leading and growing the quality and quantity of youth mentoring relationships nationwide. GRAMMY award-winner Tori Kelly performed the Mavis Staples classic, “In Times Like These” during the presentation.
During the show, host Tracy Morgan announced that ESPN—through the incredible support of fans, employees, partners, and the sports community—had helped raise over $100 million for the V Foundation for Cancer Research, which was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano. ESPN and the V Foundation have vowed to continue to raise awareness and funds for cancer research until there is victory over cancer.
The evening’s final award for Best Team was presented by Academy Award®-winning actress Sandra Bullock to the back-to-back World Cup champions, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, fresh off a plane from their New York ticker-tape-parade celebrating their momentous victory. Morgan closed the show saying “Let’s pay these ladies and cure cancer!”
Earlier in the night, during the red carpet, ESPN presented two new awards. Best WWE Moment went to Roman Reigns for his triumphant return to WWE Raw after announcing his leukemia is in remission. oLARRY won the Best Esports Moment for his return to NBA2k after surviving a mass shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, last year.
COMPLETE LIST OF “The 2019 ESPYS Presented by Capital One” WINNERS
Best Male Athlete: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Best Female Athlete: Alex Morgan
Best Breakthrough Athlete: Saquon Barkley
Best Game: Rams defeat Chiefs on Monday Night Football
Best College Athlete: Zion Williamson
Best Record-Breaking Performance: Drew Brees
Best Play: Katelyn Ohashi
Best Viral Sports Moment: Katelyn Ohashi’s perfect 10
Best Upset: Andy Ruiz Jr. defeats Anthony Joshua
Best International Men’s Soccer Player: Lionel Messi
Best International Women’s Soccer Player: Sam Kerr
Best NFL Player: Patrick Mahomes
Best MLB Player: Christian Yelich
Best NHL Player: Alexander Ovechkin
Best Driver: Kyle Busch
Best NBA Player: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Best WNBA Player: Breanna Stewart
Best Boxer: Canelo Álvarez
Best MMA Fighter: Daniel Cormier
Best Male Golfer: Brooks Koepka
Best Female Golfer: Brooke Henderson
Best Male Tennis Player: Roger Federer
Best Female Tennis Player: Serena Williams
Best Male Action Sports Athlete: Nyjah Huston
Best Female Action Sports Athlete: Chloe Kim
Best Jockey: Mike Smith
Best Male Athlete with a Disability: Mark Barr
Best Female Athlete with a Disability: Allysa Seely
Best Bowler: Norm Duke
Best MLS Player: Zlatan Ibrahimović
Best NWSL Player: Sam Kerr
Best Esports Moment: oLarry returns to NBA2k
Best WWE Moment: Roman Reigns returns to WWE Raw
Best Team: US Women’s National Soccer Team
Best Moment: Lindsey Vonn, Rob Gronkowski, and Dwyane Wade
Best Comeback: St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup
Jimmy V Award for Perseverance: Rob Mendez
Arthur Ashe Award for Courage: Bill Russell
Pat Tillman Award for Service: Kirstie Ennis
Best Coach: Jim Calhoun