(ABC NEWS) – Wednesday night’s ESPY awards will not only honor performances on the court, pitch, field or track, they also will pay tribute to the heroic actions of fellow athletes and colleagues who have faced their toughest challenges outside of their respective games.
Such moments include last year’s emotional honor bestowed on longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, who received the Jimmy V Perseverance Award for his courageous fight against cancer. Scott died in January at age 49.
One of the most noted ESPY honorees is Caitlyn Jenner, who will tonight be presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Caitlyn — known formerly as Bruce, the decorated Olympic champion — has transitioned to a woman.
Another person to be honored tonight with an ESPY — the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award — will be former Notre Dame basketball player Danielle Green. An Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Green will receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service.
After losing her left arm in combat, Green serves as a counselor to other veterans.
She said it makes her “feel good inside to help someone else in need.”
Other special honorees tonight are Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still and his 4-year-old daughter, Leah, 5.
Devon has been by his daughter’s side during her battle with cancer, often sharing some of their special moments – like fist bumps and pep talks – on social media. Father and daughter are the recipients of this year’s Jimmy V Perseverance Award.
“You can’t really give up and not give your child’s fight with cancer a purpose,” Still told ABC News, adding that the most humbling aspect of the attention on Leah’s cancer battle is watching his daughter “make such a big impact on this world.”
Leah will not be at the ESPYs with her dad to accept their award tonight but gave Still some advice.
“She’s like, ‘Dad you’re a big baby, stop crying,'” Still said.
With the exception of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and other special awards, the ESPYs are voted upon by fans and experts.
The event raises more than $1 million annually for The V Foundation — the charity founded by ESPN and the late basketball coach Jim Valvano — to promote cancer research.
The ESPYs will be broadcast live tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC.