A real-life hero was honored at the 2016 ESPY Awards on July 13! Zaveion Dobson, the 15-year-old boy who died protecting 3 girls, received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in honor of his sacrifice. And as his family stepped on stage to accept the award, there was hardly a dry eye in the audience!
The 2016 ESPYs experienced a super emotional moment when Zaevion Dobson‘s family accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in the late teen’s honor. Bravely sacrificing his own life, the young athlete died saving the lives of three young girls back in December — WHAT an amazing choice for this year’s recipient. And while his mom teared up on stage while accepting the award and advocating for safer gun laws, celebs such as LeBron James, Gabriele Union, and Charles Barkley, also couldn’t hold back their tears.
Presented by NBA star Steph Curry, 28, Zaevion’s mother, Zenobia Dobson, and his two brothers, Zackelyn Dobson and Markastin Taylor accepted the award to a standing ovation after an extremely touching video telling Zaevion’s story played. “Good evening, it’s an honor to accept this award on behalf of our beloved Zaevion,” Zenobia began her extremely heartfelt speech. “We feel blessed and honored that our Zaevion joins the ranks of this award’s honorees.”
And then Zenobia’s speech took an even more emotional turn as she pleaded with viewers at home and athletes in the audience to help fight for gun safety laws. “I’d love to stand up here and tell you even more about Zaevion than you already know…but I feel the need to tell you something else,” she said. She continued, explaining that just four months after Zaevion was struck dead by a bullet, his cousin, was also killed at the hand of gun after a drive-by shooting. “He was an innocent victim,” she said.
“We need to take a stand against gun violence throughout America,” Zaevion’s mom continued. “I’m here to urge all of you to join the movement tonight to save innocent lives. We need to rewrite laws to make it harder for people to get guns. All the athletes in this room, you have a lot of power — people look up to you.” And that’s when the athletes in the run could not hold it together any longer.
See, Zaevion was a promising football player who gave the ULTIMATE sacrifice when he used his body to shield his friends from gunfire on the evening of Dec. 17, 2015. The 15-year-old ended up getting shot in the head and passing away at the scene. And while he could have ran and protected himself, he stayed to help those around him, which is why ESPN chose to honor the young hero tonight.
It was announced on June 21 that Zaevion would be receiving the prestigious award, and honestly we can’t think of a better recipient. There’s no question the teen is a true hero. “There’s nothing more courageous than somebody sacrificing their own life for somebody else,” Maura Mandt, the executive producer for the ESPYs, said. And we could not agree more.
“If it wasn’t for Zaevion, if he would have just ran off the porch, we would have probably been shot,”Kiara Rucker, one of the teenage girls Zaevion protected, told CBS affiliate WVLT at the time of the attack. Another girl the athlete saved, Faith Gordon, declared on Twitter, “You’re my hero, I’ll never forget you.”
Previous winners of the Ashe Courage Award have included Muhammad Ali, Dean Smith, Billie Jean King, Pat Summitt, Michael Sam, Caitlyn Jenner, and four United Flight 93 passengers who helped prevent a Sept. 11 hijacking in 2001. And now Zaevion is among those legends too.
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — what did you think of Zaevion’s family’s emotional message? Pretty beautiful, right? Do you think he was the best fit for the award this year?