ESPYs 2016: Biggest Moments From the Show

There were poignant speeches, calls to action, and more.

ByABC News
July 14, 2016, 12:20 AM

— -- Top athletes from LeBron James to Bryce Harper gathered together in Los Angeles on Wednesday night for the 2016 ESPY Awards.

The show, which featured poignant moments and laugh-out-loud jokes, was hosted by John Cena and was broadcast live on ABC.

For those who missed the ESPYS or simply want to relive the show, here were five of the top moments of the night:

1. Zaevion Dobson's mother and NBA players called to end gun violence: The ESPYS opened on a serious note, with NBA stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony calling for an end to police brutality and gun violence. They also urged their fellow athletes to affect change in their communities. "The system is broken. The problems are not new, the violence is not new, and the racial divide definitely is not new," Anthony said, "But the urgency to create change is at an all-time high."

Not long after, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage was awarded to 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson, a high school athlete who was killed by stray bullets last year while protecting two young women. His mother, Zenobia Dobson, echoed the players' sentiments, and pressed for harsher gun laws. "All the athletes in this room -- you have a lot of power. People look up to you. I know Zaevion did, and I urge you to think tonight about why he died and what you can do tomorrow to prevent the next innocent young man or woman from being lost as well," she added.

2. Joe Biden awarded the Jimmy V. Award for Perseverance to Craig Sager: Sportscaster Craig Sager, who is battling leukemia, was awarded the Jimmy V. Award for Perseverance by Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau last year to brain cancer. In an emotional speech, Sager thanked his family for their support and spoke at length about the importance of keeping a positive attitude. "If I've learned anything through all of this it's that each and every day is a canvas waiting to be be painted - an opportunity for love, for fun, for living, for learning," he said. "I will live my life full of love and full of fun. It's the only way I know how."

3. Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant and Abby Womach win the Icon Award: Justin Timberlake presented the Icon Award to Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant and Abby Womach, all of whom retired this past season. After a moving montage of the athletes' accomplishments, Bryant, whose name was chanted by the audience, received one of the biggest laughs of the night after poking fun of himself in his acceptance speech. "It's amazing to be standing here alongside Abby and Peyton. Abby decided to retire after a compelling World Cup victory. Peyton hung up his cleats after an yet another impressive Super Bowl win.... For me, I tend to do things a little differently," he said. "I felt an impressive 17-for-65 season would be a bold statement to wrap up my 20-year career."

4. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrated another big night: Just one month after taking home the NBA championship trophy, the Cleveland Cavaliers and MVP LeBron James won big yet again. James won all three ESPY Awards for which he was nominated, including Best Male Athlete, and the team won two, including Best Team.

5. Stars pay tribute to Muhammad Ali: At the end of the show, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke lovingly of his friend, the late Muhammad Ali, before Chance the Rapper performed a song intermixed with the boxer's interviews. After telling a story about watching Ali perform magic tricks, Abdul-Jabbar marveled at his "ability to make the impossible seem real" in all aspects of his life. He also praised Ali for using his celebrity to enact change. "He spoke fearlessly about injustice and he sacrificed tremendously for his principles," he said. "In this day and age, at this moment in history, that's what I hope everyone remembers about Muhammad Ali. We're never going to see his likes again walking down the street, but I hope his death spurs his successors to remember what truly made him the greatest."

Related Topics