The 2016 ESPY Awards are coming up in just a few weeks, with the ceremony being held in Los Angeles on July 13. And this year's Arthur Ashe Courage Award has an important winner. Following months of tragic shootings, from everyday gun violence to larger-scale tragedies, he shines light on an important issue which continues to plague the U.S. So who was Zaevion Dobson, this year's Courage Award winner?
Dobson was a 15-year-old football player at Fulton High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. He was a sophomore, tragically killed in December after several men opened fire in the neighborhood where he lived. He died while shielding two of his friends. One of the girls told WVLT-TV, "If it wasn't for Zaevion, if he would have just ran off the porch, we would have probably been shot."
Dobson will be winning this year's Courage Award for his bravery. He is the youngest person ever to win the award, which will be accepted by his mother Zenobia on his behalf. The ESPY's executive producer, Maura Mandt, explained to ESPN that Dobson would be winning this year's award because, "There's nothing more courageous than somebody sacrificing their own life for somebody else."
Dobson's mother also shared with ESPN about her son's passion for football and his care for others. ESPN reported that Dobson was an active advocate of human rights throughout his life, and his mother told the outlet that he'd often stand up for others: "He would stop bullies from bullying. He got bullied at a young age. He stepped up to the bully, and once he stepped up to the bully, he wasn't afraid. If he saw kids getting bullied, he'd step in and say, 'Don't bully them.'"
President Obama tweeted about Dobson's death in December. He wrote, "Zaevion Dobson died saving three friends from getting shot. He was a hero at 15. What's our excuse for not acting?" Dobson's mother told ESPN, "I'm just so honored to be his mother. I will always love him in my heart, but since his passing, I love him even more. I draw closer to him every day."
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award has been offered annually since 1993. Previous winners of the award include Caitlyn Jenner in 2015, the late Muhammad Ali in 1997, and the passengers of Flight 93, who fought hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001.