Every year at the ESPY Awards, the Arthur Ashe Courage Award is traditionally given to just one person.
On Wednesday night, 141 people accepted that award.
The hundreds of women who came forward to speak out about Larry Nassar — the disgraced USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor who was sentenced to decades in prison for sexually abusing athletes — received the award at ESPN’s annual award show, recognizing their courage to speak out and help bring the scandal to light.
And with it came quite a powerful image.
Olympic gymnast and Nassar survivor Aly Raisman — alongside Sarah Klein and Tiffany Thomas Lopez — led the charge on stage Wednesday night, and Raisman started out by reading out every year that someone reported his abuse.
“All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar,” Raisman said. “If just one adult had listened, believed and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never met him. Too often abusers and enablers perpetuate suffering by making survivors believe that their truth doesn’t matter.
“To all the survivors out there don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter. You matter, and you are not alone.”
Past recipients of the award, named after tennis legend Arthur Ashe, include Muhammad Ali, Billie Jean King, Nelson Mandela, Pat Summit, Robin Roberts and Caitlyn Jenner.
The award, ESPYS executive producer Marua Mandt said, is simply perfect fit for the survivors.
“For 25 years, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage has been given to those who change the world in important ways, and the future will undoubtedly be different because of the actions of these heroic women,” Mandt said. “This tribute will reflect the awe and admiration these individuals deserve.”
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