Art for the 2023 ESPYS. Art for the 2023 ESPYS. (ESPN Press Room.)

One of the most notable parts of ESPN’s annual ESPYS award show is who receives the special awards. ESPN announced those honors Tuesday and Wednesday, and some notable people and groups are being honored this year. Those include the U.S. women’s soccer team, Chicago White Sox pitcher Liam Hendriks, the Buffalo Bills’ training staff, and sports researcher Dr. Richard Lapchick. Lapchick will be honored at the ESPYS Preview Show on July 11 as part of the Sports Humanitarian Awards, while the USWNT, Hendriks, and the Bills staff will be honored on the main televised broadcast of the ESPYs on July 12:

Here’s more on the Ashe, Jimmy V, and Tillman awards from a release:

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) will be honored with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for their resilient fight for equal pay off the field. The award is given to a deserving member or group in the sporting world who makes a difference far beyond the field of play, impacting the world in indelible ways. The USWNT players are longtime advocates of equality, and in March 2019, they began a legal battle with U.S. Soccer for equal pay with the U.S Men’s National Soccer Team. In 2022, the team reached a historic agreement that officially split men’s and women’s pay 50/50 and ultimately set a new global standard in sports and had a ripple effect outside of the sports world. Since then, the USWNT has continued to leverage their platform to raise awareness around pay inequity and social injustices in the United States. Past recipients of the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage include Muhammad Ali (1997), Billie Jean King (1999), former president Nelson Mandela (2009), Caitlyn Jenner (2015), Bill Russell (2019), and Vitali Klitschko (2022).

Chicago White Sox pitcher and cancer survivor Liam Hendriks will receive the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance, a symbol of his strength and resilience in his fight against non-Hodgkins lymphoma. In Hendriks’ first game back on the mound this May, he threw 16 strikes against the Los Angeles Angels, bringing the crowd to their feet for a standing ovation as he walked back to the dugout. Battling cancer since late last year, Hendriks returned to the mound within six months and donated $100,000 to cancer research in the process. Past recipients of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance include Dick Vitale (2022), Chris Nikic (2021), Craig Sager (2016), and Stuart Scott (2014).

After Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the field shook the world last January, the Buffalo Bills training staff exemplified mental toughness and immediately performed life-saving measures. In recognition of their commitment to every member of the team, the Bills training staff will be awarded the Pat Tillman Award for Service presented by MassMutual, an award given to a group with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger, Pat Tillman. Past recipients of the Pat Tillman Award for Service include Gretchen Evans (2022), Kim Clavel (2020), and Jake Wood (2019).

And more on the Scott Award from another release on the Sports Humanitarian Awards:

In honor of former ESPN commentator Stuart Scott, this award celebrates individuals that have taken risks and used an innovative approach to helping the disadvantaged through the power of sports. The ENSPIRE Award will be featured in the ESPYS Preview Show on July 11.

Dr. Richard Lapchick is a human rights activist, pioneer for racial equality and internationally-recognized expert on sports and social issues. In 1976, Lapchick created the American Coordinating Committee for Equality in Sport in alliance with the anti-Apartheid movement. In 1985, he founded The Institute for Sport and Social Justice to use the power and appeal of sport to positively impact society. In 2022, The Institute facilitated nearly 200 trainings on gender-based violence prevention, leadership, diversity, equity and inclusion, and more, to over 5,000 student-athletes, coaches and their administrators. Lapchick also launched The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida in December 2002, which publishes the critically acclaimed Racial and Gender Report Card, an annual analysis of racial and gender hiring practices for all major sports leagues and the sports media.

As noted above, the Jimmy V Award went to Dick Vitale last year. Last year saw the Ashe Award presented to former boxer and current mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko. All of these awards are quite significant, and the ESPYS and Sports Humanitarian Awards have picked some notable recipients here.

[ESPN Press Room]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.