What an amazing farewell gift! U. S. Women’s Soccer star Abby Wambach was awarded with ESPN’s Icon Award for all her contributions to the sport that she’s retiring from. Keep reading to hear her inspiring words about fighting for equality for women both on and off the field.
Going out on top! Retired soccer legend Abby Wambach, 36, received the prestigious Icon Award at the ESPYs for her amazing career, leading the U.S. Women’s Soccer team to two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup Victory. She gave an inspiring speech about how her efforts to always fight for women’s equality have made her feel as proud as any of her on-field achievements.
Abby wasn’t the only athlete to pick up an Icon Award as for the first time, ESPN decided to give out three awards to retiring athletes, the other ones being Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, 37, and Super Bowl champ Peyton Manning, 40. Justin Timberlake, 35, had the enviable honor of presenting the awards to the legendary athletes. The three champs took the stage together and each gave their own speeches.
“It’s such an honor to be up here, you guys are my heroes,” she told Peyton and Kobe. “For me it was never about tryng to be the best player in the world. It was about working hard and embracing eery challenge,” she said of her soccer career.
The out and proud athlete then said “I wanted people to see who I was underneath the jersey and see me as a person and not just an athlete,” noting how she fought for equal rights and equitable pay for women in sports, noting “that is what I’m most proud of.” She ended her speech by telling the audience that she was “true to myself and better having left the game than when I found it.”
The soccer star is an ESPN favorite, as she won the 2011 ESPY Award for Best Play of the Year. Her last-minute goal set a new record for latest goal ever scored in a soccer match with her header in the 122nd minute of the World Cup semifinal game against Brazil. It turned out to be the equalizer that helped send the team to the World Cup finals against Japan, where they unfortunately lost. But her amazing play during the 2011 World Cup earned her the honor of being the first ever soccer player of either gender to be named Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press. Impressive!
HollywoodLifers, were you moved by Abby’s speech?