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The 31st Annual ESPY Awards Unite Music and Sports in a Night of Triumph

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Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and LeBron James

The 31st annual ESPY Awards, broadcast on ABC, took place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, blurring the line between music fans and sports fans. The star-studded event showcased captivating performances and heartfelt tributes that left the audience in awe. The show kicked off with an electrifying performance by Lil Wayne, who mesmerized the crowd with his 2008 hit “A Milli.” H.E.R. followed with a soul-stirring rendition of her latest single, “The Journey,” paying homage to the 30th anniversary of Jimmy Valvano’s inspiring ESPYS speech in 1993, delivered during his battle with terminal cancer.

The ESPY Awards featured several notable music stars throughout the three-hour show. Presenters included Quavo and Lil Dicky, while Common narrated a segment honoring Liam Hendriks, who triumphed over Stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Angel Reese, the standout player who led the Louisiana State University women’s basketball team to victory in the college championship, has not only made her mark in sports but also become a pop-culture sensation. Reese recently appeared in Latto’s “Put It On Da Floor Again” music video, in which Cardi B raps, “I been ballin’ so damn hard could’ve went to LSU.”

For the second consecutive year, a woman claimed the gender-neutral Best Breakthrough Athlete award. Last year, skier Eileen Gu emerged victorious, making history at this year’s ESPYs as women won back-to-back awards in this category. Iowa basketball star Caitlin Clark, Reese’s NCAA finals rival, received the award for Best College Athlete in women’s sports.

Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs emerged as a double winner, securing the titles of Best Athlete in men’s sports and Best NFL Player. The Kansas City Chiefs were also honored as the Best Team. Argentina soccer superstar Lionel Messi mirrored Mahomes’ success, winning both the Best Championship Performance and Best Soccer Player awards.

ESPN sports analyst Pat McAfee delivered an opening monologue, though the show didn’t have a formal host due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike.

Co-produced by ESPN and Full Day Productions, the ESPY Awards resembled a music awards show in certain aspects. While only eight competitive awards were announced during the broadcast, we have compiled the full list of winners, including special awards and sports humanitarian awards.

Here is the complete list below of winners at the 31st Annual ESPY Awards.

Best Athlete With a Disability:

  • Aaron Pike (Wheelchair Racing & Cross-Country Skiing)
  • Erica McKee (Sled Hockey Team)
  • Susannah Scaroni (Wheelchair Racing)
  • WINNER: Zach Miller (Snowboarding)

Best Athlete, Men’s Sports:

  • Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
  • Lionel Messi, Argentina
  • Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets
  • WINNER: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Best Athlete, Women’s Sports:

  • A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces
  • Iga Świątek, Tennis
  • Sophia Smith, Portland Thorns
  • WINNER: Mikaela Shiffrin, Ski

Best Boxer:

  • Devin Haney
  • Gervonta Davis
  • Shakur Stevenson
  • WINNER: Claressa Shields

Best Breakthrough Athlete:

  • Angel Reese, LSU Women’s Basketball
  • Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers
  • Caitlin Clark, Iowa Women’s Basketball
  • Julio Rodríguez, Seattle Mariners
  • WINNER: Angel Reese, LSU Women’s Basketball

Best Championship Performance:

  • Leon Edwards defeating Kamaru Usman to win the UFC welterweight title.
  • Lionel Messi’s outstanding performance in the 2022 World Cup Final.
  • Nikola Jokić earning the 2023 NBA Finals MVP.
  • Rose Zhang winning her first professional start in LPGA history.
  • WINNER: Lionel Messi’s outstanding performance in the 2022 World Cup Final.

Best College Athlete, Men’s Sports:

  • Brennan O’Neill, Duke Lacrosse
  • Duncan McGuire, Creighton Soccer
  • WINNER: Caleb Williams, USC Football
  • Zach Edey, Purdue Men’s Basketball

Best College Athlete, Women’s Sports:

  • Izzy Scane, Northwestern Lacrosse
  • Jordy Bahl, Oklahoma Softball
  • Trinity Thomas, Florida Gators Gymnastics
  • WINNER: Caitlin Clark, Iowa Women’s Basketball

Best Comeback Athlete:

  • Alyssa Thomas earning the WNBA Comeback Player of the Year title.
  • Jon Jones returning to the UFC after a hiatus since 2020.
  • Justin Verlander’s successful return to the MLB after Tommy John surgery.
  • WINNER: Jamal Murray’s comeback from a torn ACL.

Best Driver:

  • Brittany Force, NHRA
  • Josef Newgarden, IndyCar
  • Kyle Larson, NASCAR
  • WINNER: Max Verstappen, F1

Best Golfer:

  • Jon Rahm
  • Nelly Korda
  • Scottie Scheffler
  • Wyndham Clark
  • WINNER: Scottie Scheffler

Best MLB Player:

  • Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
  • Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
  • Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
  • WINNER: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

Best NBA Player:

  • Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
  • Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
  • Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
  • WINNER: Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets

Best NFL Player:

  • Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
  • Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers
  • WINNER: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Best NHL Player:

  • David Pastrňák, Boston Bruins
  • Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights
  • Linus Ullmark, Boston Bruins
  • WINNER: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

Best Play:

  • Ally Lemos’ perfect corner to tie the NCAA National Championship game.
  • Justin Jefferson’s remarkable catch in the NFL.
  • Michael Block’s Hole-in-One in golf.
  • Trinity Thomas achieving a perfect 10, tying the all-time NCAA record in gymnastics.
  • WINNER: Justin Jefferson’s remarkable catch in the NFL.

Best Record-Breaking Performance:

  • LeBron James surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
  • Max Verstappen breaking the record for the most wins in a season in Formula 1.
  • Mikaela Shiffrin breaking the record for the most World Cup victories.
  • Novak Djokovic breaking the record for the most Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis history.
  • WINNER: LeBron James surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Best Soccer Player:

  • Aitana Bonmatí, Spain/Barcelona
  • Erling Haaland, Norway/Manchester City
  • Lionel Messi, Argentina/PSG
  • WINNER: Lionel Messi, Argentina/PSG

Best Tennis Player:

  • Aryna Sabalenka
  • Carlos Alcaraz
  • Iga Świątek
  • WINNER: Novak Djokovic

Best Team:

  • Denver Nuggets, NBA
  • Georgia Bulldogs, NCAA Football
  • Kansas City Chiefs, NFL
  • Las Vegas Aces, WNBA
  • Louisiana State Tigers, NCAA Women’s Basketball
  • Oklahoma Sooners, NCAA Softball
  • Vegas Golden Knights, NHL
  • WINNER: Kansas City Chiefs, NFL

Special Awards:

  • Arthur Ashe Award for Courage: U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team for their successful fight for pay parity.
  • Jimmy V Award for Perseverance: Liam Hendriks, Chicago White Sox pitcher and cancer survivor.
  • Pat Tillman Award for Service: Buffalo Bills’ training staff for aiding Damar Hamlin’s recovery from a devastating injury.

Sports Humanitarian Awards:

  • Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award: Jordan Adeyemi, Ashley Badis, Rishan Patel
  • Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award: Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks) & Lauren Holiday (retired U.S. Women’s National Team)
  • Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year: San Antonio Spurs
  • Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award Honoree: Dr. Richard Lapchick

The 31st ESPY Awards delivered a memorable night, blending the realms of music and sports in a celebration of exceptional athletic achievements, inspiring stories, and remarkable acts of service within the sports community.

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