Survivors of Larry Nassar's sex abuse join hands, accept courage award at ESPYs
More than 140 women win Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at sports awards ceremony
More than 140 survivors of sexual abuse by a former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University joined hands on stage to be honoured with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYs.
The women who spoke out against the abuse by Larry Nassar stood together Wednesday night in a powerful and solemn closing to the show highlighting the past year's top athletes and moments in sports.
Gymnast Aly Raisman, softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez and gymnast Sarah Klein, who said she was Nassar's first victim 30 years ago, took turns speaking. Klein chided the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and Michigan State for placing "money and medals above the safety of child athletes."
Olympic snowboarding champion Chloe Kim won a leading three ESPYs, including best female athlete, while Alex Ovechkin claimed best male athlete.
'We were ignored'
Kim had tears in her eyes as she listened to the Arthur Ashe recipients.
"We must start caring about children's safety more than we care about adults' reputations," Klein said. "If we can just give one person the courage to use their voice, this is worth it."
Raisman added, "For too long we were ignored. It could have been avoided. All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar."
The audience gave the group a prolonged standing ovation and remained on its feet while the women spoke.
"What a powerful stage up here," host Danica Patrick said before signing off.
Ovechkin a double winner
Ovechkin joined Roger Federer and Olympic snowboarder Shaun White as double winners. Ovechkin was in Russia with his wife, Nastya, who is 8½ months pregnant.
Newly retired racecar driver Patrick became the first woman to host the show at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Her opening monologue mostly fell flat, with athletes sitting stone-faced or wincing at many of the jokes.
Kim took female athlete honours over Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin, WNBA player Sylvia Fowles and soccer player Julie Ertz.
"This year has been filled with so many incredible memories I will hold onto the rest of my life," Kim said as she held the silver trophy. "I really want to thank my family. They've sacrificed so much for me."
U.S. women's hockey honoured for win over Canada
Kim also claimed trophies for best female Olympian and female action sports athlete. At the Pyeongchang Games in February, she became the youngest to win a snowboarding medal when the then-17-year-old claimed gold in halfpipe.
Ovechkin, who led the Washington Capitals to their first Stanley Cup championship, also won for best NHL player. He beat out Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and fellow first-time nominees Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and James Harden of the Houston Rockets for male athlete.
Federer's five-set victory at the Australian Open in January for his 20th Grand Slam singles title earned honours for record-breaking performance and he also received best male tennis player.
On a big night for Olympians, the U.S. women's hockey team earned best game honours for their shootout victory over Canada in the gold-medal game in South Korea.