In January 2018, over 150 women testified at the trial of disgraced USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. Survivors of Nassar’s decades of sexual abuse include U.S. Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, and McKayla Maroney. For his crimes, Nassar received a 175-year maximum prison sentence.
Now, just days after MSU’s Nassar survivors reached a settlement with the school, EPSN announced that they will be honoring Nassar’s victims with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at The 2018 ESPYS on July 18th.
“We are honored to recognize the courage of these women at The 2018 ESPYS, to acknowledge the power of their voices, and to shine a very well-deserved spotlight on what speaking up, fighting back, and demanding accountability can accomplish,” Alison Overhold, vice president and editor for ESPN The Magazine, said in a statement. “They have shown us all what it truly means to speak truth to power, and through their bravery, they are making change for future generations. By honoring this group who spoke out, we aim to honor all of those who are survivors of abuse.”
Maura Mandt, producer of The ESPYS, added that the Arthur Ashe Courage Award goes to those who have changed the world. “The future will undoubtedly be different because of the actions of these heroic women,” she said.
According to CNN, Arthur Ashe, a tennis star, devoted himself to social activism and educating the public about HIV and AIDS.
Ashe died from the disease in 1993. But his legacy for inspiring change lives on via the ESPY award in his name. Past Arthur Ashe Award winners include Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Pat Summitt and Billie Jean King. Last year, the EPSY was awarded posthumously to Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Because these women stood up and supported each other, they created a safer future for others and helped rewrite a harmful narrative. It will undoubtedly be a powerful moment on stage for women at the ESPYs and around the world.