By Max Godnick
Nearly 150 survivors of Dr. Larry Nassar's sexual abuse accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYS on Wednesday night. The women, who call themselves "sister survivors," directly addressed their encounters with the former USA Gymnastics team doctor, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison in February.
"To all the survivors out there, don't let anyone rewrite your story," said Aly Raisman, the three-time Olympic gold medalist who was abused by Nassar. "We may suffer alone, but we survive together."
This group of womenー141 in totalーare the latest to inspire the ESPYS' audience. Traditionally, The Ashe Award honors risk-takers and survivors of traumas, which have ranged from illness to social prejudice. Previous winners include Caitlyn Jenner in 2015, Michael Samーthe NFL's first openly gay playerーin 2014, and news anchor and breast cancer survivor Robin Roberts in 2013.
"It was probably one of the biggest ESPY moments that we've ever seen," said Josh Hill, senior editor at FanSided, in an interview with Cheddar on Thursday.
The acceptance speech comes amid criticism that networks and athletes should "stick to sports" and not comment on polarizing social or political issues. In February, Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham told LeBron James to "shut up and dribble" after he criticized President Trump during an interview on ESPN.
The survivors' moment onstage was the most buzz-worthy part of an evening that mostly features awards such as "Best Team" and "Best Championship Performance." Hill said that those prizes, unlike the Arthur Ashe, fail to generate conversation because generally speaking, the ESPYS are "an award show that awards people for already winning awards."
"It's something that I think needed to happen," Hill said. "ESPN and sports in general can't just keep going on pretending like these things aren't issues."
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