ESPYS crowd brought to tears over mother's call to end gun violence

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There wasn't a dry eye in the room during the presentation of the annual Arthur Ashe Award for Courage during the ESPY Awards on Wednesday night.

The honoree, Zaevion Dobson, was a 15-year-old football player of Knoxville, Tenn., who was killed in December 2015 when he shielded three girls from a spray of bullets. Sacrificing himself, he died in the shooting.

To introduce the award, Steph Curry gave a pointed speech against gun violence — a prevalent theme during the annual awards show that opened with a Black Lives Matter call to action from NBA superstars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

"In an average year in America, more than 33,000 people die after getting shot by a gun," the NBA star said. "Wherever you're from, whatever you think, whatever your politics are: What you can't forget is that every one of those people who dies has a story."

See images from the speech:

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Arthur Ashe Courage Award 2016 - Zaevion Dobson
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Arthur Ashe Courage Award 2016 - Zaevion Dobson
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: (L-R) Markastin Taylor and Zenobia Dobson accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage on behalf of Zaevion Dobson from NBA player Stephen Curry onstage during the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: (L-R) Markastin Taylor, Zenobia Dobson and Zackelyn Dobson accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage on behalf of Zaevion Dobson onstage during the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: (L-R) Markastin Taylor, Zenobia Dobson and Zackelyn Dobson accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage on behalf of Zaevion Dobson onstage during the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NBA basketball player Stephen Curry, of the Golden State Warriors, presents the Arthur Ashe award for courage at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
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He continued, "[Zaevion] had nothing to do with the bullet that took his life. He and his friends didn't know the people who killed him or anything about the feud that led to their gunfire. But in a split second, because of his incredible courage, he became part of one of the saddest statistics in America."

Read MoreWatch NBA Superstars Open ESPYs With Black Lives Matter Call to Action: "We All Have to Do Better"

Zaevion's mother, Zenobia, and brothers, Zackelyn and Markastin, took the stage after a powerful tribute video about the tragedy.

After accepting the award on behalf of their son and brother, Zenobia launched into a powerful speech about gun violence that had nearly every A-list athlete — from Aaron Rodgers to Shaquille O'Neal — listening with tears in their eyes.

"I'd loved to stand up here and tell you more about Zaevion, all the hopes and dreams he had for the future. All the things I dreamt about for him," she said, before telling the crowd about his cousin who was also killed in a drive-by shooting four months after Zaevion's death. The 12-year-old was coming home from a basketball game where Zaevion was honored.

"I'm here to fight back," she said. "We as a country need to take a stand against the effects of gun violence on families throughout America."

Encouraging all of the people in the room to join the movement to save innocent lives, Zenobia spoke directly to the athletes.

"You have a lot of power, people look up to you, I know Zaevion did," she said. "I urge you to think tonight about why he died and what you can do to prevent the next death of an innocent young woman or man."

She ended the emotional address with a message for her son: "Your act of bravery and boldness revealed to the world the real you. Fly high our Falcon 24."

See who attended the 2016 ESPYS:

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2016 ESPYs Red Carpet
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2016 ESPYs Red Carpet
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Football player Russell Wilson and recording artist Ciara attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Recording artist Ciara attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Former professional figure skater Scott Hamilton (L) and former NBA player Charles Barkley attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: NFL player Eric Decker (L) and recording artist Jessie James Decker attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Singer Andra Day attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Basketball player Dwyane Wade and actress Gabrielle Union attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Professional wrestlers The Miz (L) and Maryse Ouellet attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Football player Aaron Rodgers and actress Olivia Munn attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Host John Cena (L) and WWE Diva Nikki Bella attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Skiier Lindsey Vonn attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Marie Tillman attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Basketball player Lisa Leslie attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Football player Trai Turner attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Skataeboarder Pedro Barros (L) attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Actress Olivia Munn attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Soccer player Christen Press attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Professional snowboarder Chloe Kim attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: (L-R) NBA player DeAndre Jordan, commissioner of the NBA Adam Silver and NBA player Chris Paul attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Professional wrestler Summer Rae attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Actor Jessie T. Usher attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Singer Jessie James attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: NBA player J. R. Smith attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Volleyball player April Ross attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: TV host Sage Steele attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Fencer Nzingha Prescod attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Basketball player Skylar Diggins attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: NBA player Stephen Curry attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: NBA player Stephen Curry (R) and Ayesha Curry attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Athlete Victoria Arlen attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Fencer Nzingha Prescod attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Track and field athlete Lolo Jones attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Professional wrestler Nikki Bella attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Football player Andrew Hawkins attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Basketball player Gerald Henderson, Jr. attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Actress Teyonah Parris attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Athlete Tatyana McFadden attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: TV personality Caitlyn Jenner attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Wanda Durant attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: WNBA player Breanna Stewart attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Nikki DiSanto attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Golfer Chelsea Pezzola attends the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and race car driver Danica Patrick attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
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The 2016 ESPYs air live on ABC on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET/PT from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Follow along with THR's winners list as the show unfolds here.

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