Not long after her stunning cover of Vanity Fair was released, it was announced that Caitlyn Jenner will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, following in the footsteps of many other excellent athletes who have been recognized with that particular Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly (ESPY) award. The award has been bestowed to some of the biggest and most inspirational names in athletics, though it isn't only awarded to athletes.
Jenner, when she was going by Bruce, earned the gold medal for the men's decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Now after showing courage in sharing her life story, she wins this ESPY. The first public images of Jenner as a woman were released as Vanity Fair prepared for its July issue, which will hit newsstands on June 9. Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz spent two days in an emotional shoot with Jenner, according to Vanity Fair. Buzz Bissinger, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who wrote Friday Night Lights, followed Jenner to document her transition.
On July 15, the 2015 ESPY awards will air on ABC. This year's show will be hosted by actor and talk show host Joel McHale and will feature numerous famous athletes. Here are nine people Jenner will join as winners of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award who exhibited a great amount of courage.
The former University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball coach won this prestigious award in 2012. Summitt built the Lady Vols into one of the few women's college basketball teams that continuously outsells its male counterpart. She bravely revealed that she had early onset Alzheimer's Disease in 2011.
Sam came out as gay while a football player at the University of Missouri and later became the first openly gay player in the NFL. He won the Arthur Ashe Award in 2014.
Ali won the Arthur Ashe Award in 1997 and then opened the non-profit Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The organization emphasizes personal growth and social responsibility.
Although known best as the former president of South Africa, not as an athlete, Mandela received the award in 2009 for his actions at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. When the host national team, the Springboks, won, Mandela presented the cup to Captain Francois Pienaar, which was considered a step toward black and white reconciliation.
Billie Jean King
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is just one of the accolades that tennis legend King has won for her personal strength. She has won the Champion of Justice Award from the Public Justice Foundation and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is also active on behalf of the Women Sports Foundation.
ESPN and ABC journalist Roberts faced breast cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome. She had to have a bone marrow transplant and won the award for her courage in 2013.
Pat & Kevin Tillman
The brothers were both the 2003 Arthur Ashe winners for leaving their sports careers to enlist in the United States Army. They both committed to three-year terms. Pat turned down a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals; Kevin was a prospect with the Cleveland Indians. Pat was later killed in combat.
Weah was considered by many to be Africa's greatest soccer star. The Liberian player took the award in 2004 after becoming a UNICEF ambassador to help his country.
Clearly, Jenner will be in pretty amazing company.
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