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The 2014 ESPY Awards - Live Thursday on ESPN @Foxtel

SportKevin Perry
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The 2014 ESPYS – LIVE Thursday July 17 at 11am on ESPN

Grammy Award-winning, platinum-selling recording artist and multi-faceted performer Drake will host The 2014 ESPYS – airing LIVE on ESPN, Thursday  July 17 at 11.00am from the Nokia Theatre L.A. Preceded by the The ESPYS Countdown LIVE at 9:00am – hosted by Hannah Storm with live updates from Michelle Beadle, Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose as well as celebrity and athlete interviews with Cari Champion, who will be on the red carpet with the “Kicks Cam.”

The ESPY’s is back for its 22nd edition, an awards show that gathers top celebrities from sports and entertainment to commemorate the past year in sports by recognizing major sports achievements, reliving unforgettable moments and saluting the leading performers and performances. Peyton Manning, Floyd Mayweather, Christiano Ronaldo, David Ortiz, Kevin Durant, The LA Kings, The San Antonio Spurs, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are all nominees hoping to take home one of the coveted silver trophies. Australia’s own Tim Cahill (‘Best MLS Player’) and Jason Belmonte (‘Best Bowler’) have also been nominated after outstanding seasons in their respective disciplines. Cahill led the New York Red Bull’s scoring with 11 goals throughout the season, 5 of them game winners while Jason has used his instantly recognizable two handed technique to win four major PBA titles over the last two seasons posting the tour’s highest scoring average in the process.

Since its first ceremony, the ESPYS have been committed to recognising performances above sport and this tradition continues in 2014 with ‘The Jimmy V Perseverance Award’ and ‘The Pat Tillman Award for Service’.

The Jimmy V Perseverance Award was named after, and inspired by, the late Jimmy Valvano who became the award’s raison d’être at the 1993 ESPYS. While battling cancer, Valvano gave an emotional acceptance speech that included his famous words “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”. Valvano passed away less than two months later, but his words were never forgotten. The Jimmy V Award is given to a deserving member of the sporting world who has overcome great obstacles through perseverance and determination.

Recipient Stuart Scott’s successful broadcasting career was forced to take a back seat when he was first diagnosed with appendiceal cancer in November of 2007. He underwent two surgeries and months of chemotherapy before he was given a clean bill of health. Only two years later, the cancer returned. Scott’s most recent surgery was in September 2013 and he is presently continuing with medical treatments. To treat both his body and his mind, Scott has taken to fighting his cancer in the gym, with intense mixed martial arts and cross-training workouts. Despite what is now a public battle with the disease, Scott continues his high-profile role at ESPN and focuses on being a dedicated father to his two daughters.

‘The Pat Tillman Award for Service’ recognizes former NFL player and Iraq veteran Pat Tillman. In May 2002, 8 months after theSeptember 11 attacks Pat placed his NFL career on hold to enlist in the U.S. Army with his brother, committing to a three-year term. They were assigned to the second battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Fort Lewis, Washington, and served tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 as well as in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2004. On the evening of April 22, 2004, Tillman’s unit was ambushed as it traveled through eastern Afghanistan. His heroic efforts to provide cover for fellow soldiers as they escaped from the canyon led to his untimely and tragic death via fratricide.

The inaugural recipient of the Pat Tillman Award for Service will be Josh Sweeney, a Purple Heart recipient and a member of the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team that won the gold medal at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Sweeney became a bilateral amputee after being injured by an improvised explosive device in October of 2009 while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Afghanistan. An able-bodied hockey player throughout high school, the war veteran was immediately drawn to sled hockey during his rehabilitation and worked his way to becoming a forward for the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team. Sweeney scored the game-winning goal in the 2014 gold-medal game against Russia, leading Team USA to its second straight gold at the Paralympics.