Muhammad Ali

Celebrating 25 years, the ESPYs have become more than a sports awards show

Celebrating 25 years, the ESPYs have become more than a sports awards show

In 1993, ESPN broadcaster and big-league college basketball coach Jim Valvano brought a howling, teary-eyed Madison Square Garden to its feet with a heartrending speech at the inaugural ESPY Awards show.

A charismatic, sports-loving guy with a charming knack for candidness, Valvano — better known by his nickname, Jimmy V — accepted the show’s first-ever Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award. That’s perhaps the ESPYs’ most distinguished accolade, which has recognized the likes of Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela and, more recently, Caitlyn Jenner.

While the award honored Valvano for his legendary coaching career, it also acknowledged the real courage required to fight a...

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