KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Four East Tennesseans were honored Wednesday at the 2016 Espy Awards.
Former University of Tennessee Volunteer and Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry was honored first with the Espy for “Best Come-Back Athlete.” Berry gave a heartfelt speech for those fighting.
“When you fight something like cancer, you are not dealing with a person who looks at where you come from or what’s your background, what race you are, what ethnicity or whatever your culture is, it doesn’t care about that. It doesn’t sleep, it doesn’t get tired, so if you make it about yourself, you’re going to fail every time.”
Berry said he tried to approach cancer so that someone can look at his story and say he is not a victim of circumstance or diagnosis.
“I can do it if I put my mind to it and I have a wonderful support system. So, I’m no accepting this award for me, I’m accepting it for all the fighters out there. Regardless of what your circumstances is, regardless of what your diagnosis is, man, just keep pushing.”
Former number one women’s professional tennis player Billie Jean King gave a touching tribute to Lady Vols Coach Pat Summitt.
“Eight national titles and 1098 wins, more than any other coach in the history of division one basketball. That should be enough for a legacy, but with coach Pat Summitt, it is what she did for basketball, sports and all of us that is most important,” said King. “As one of her players said ‘she was a coach, a role-model, our mentor, our friend and our super hero.'”
King said Coach Summitt was taken way too soon.
Singer Justin Timberlake presented “Vol For Life” Peyton Manning with the Icon award. Of course, Manning decided to honor another “Vol For Life,” Pat Summitt.
“One of the great honors I had four years ago was presenting the Arthur Ashe Award to my friend, Coach Summitt and of course we remember her along with the iconic Muhammad Ali and everyone we lost this year,” said Manning.
Manning said he felt fortunate for all of the fans that support athletes. “The Super Bowl wouldn’t mean anything and the world cup wouldn’t mean anything and the NBA finals wouldn’t mean anything without the fans,” said Manning. “Being a fan is how I first came to love the NFL and now that my time is up as a player, I’m looking forward to having a great time being a fan again and watching all of you out in this audience again.”
Knoxville teen hero Zaevion Dobson posthumously received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award Wednesday night at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.
Dobson was shot and killed last December while shielding two girls, Faith Gordon and Kiara Rucker, from gunfire in what was described as a random gang related shooting. Zaevion Dobson was not involved in a gang.