May 10, 2012
After 38 seasons as head basketball coach of the University of Tennessee Lady Volunteers, Pat Summitt successfully kept the team among the nation's elite while changing the way women's collegiate hoops is perceived and inspiring women across the country. The 2012 ESPYS will recognize the strength and courage Summitt displayed during her tenure at UT and in the face of illness by honoring her with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Moving into her role as head coach emeritus after retiring with 1,098 wins, Summitt is the all-time winningest coach, man or woman, in NCAA basketball history. Known for her fierce dedication and competitive spirit, Summitt challenged and guided the Lady Vols her entire career, leading them to eight NCAA titles, 13 NCAA Final Fours and 32 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships. In April 2000, she was named the Naismith Basketball Coach of the Century.
This past summer, Summitt showed more courage than ever before as she bravely announced on Aug. 23, 2011 that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, "Alzheimer's Type," at the age of 59. She will now face her toughest opponent as she plans to deal with her diagnosis by raising awareness and research dollars while battling the public stigma this illness can sometimes cause.
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award will be awarded to Summitt at The 2012 ESPYS in Los Angeles. Presented annually to individuals whose contributions transcend sports, the Ashe Award is the emotional pinnacle of the industry-wide sports celebration, which will be hosted by actor/comedian Rob Riggle and televised live Wednesday, July 11, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPNHD from Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE.
"I am humbled to receive an honor bearing Arthur Ashe's name and to join an amazing group of recipients who have received the Ashe Award at the ESPYs. Besides being an incredible tennis player, I genuinely admired Arthur's honesty, integrity and conviction in all areas of his life on and off the court. I will proudly accept this award," said Summitt.
"Pat Summitt's accomplishments as a coach and mentor are unmatched as she has dedicated her life to serving as an inspiration and a motivator for generations of young students and athletes," said ESPN's EVP of Programming and Acquisitions, Norby Williamson. "As she enters this next phase of her life focusing on transforming her personal adversity into making an impact on the fight against Alzheimer's, we could not be more proud to honor her as the recipient of the 2012 Arthur Ashe Courage Award."
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is presented each year to individuals whose contributions transcend sports. Past honorees include: Jim Valvano (1993); Steve Palermo (1994); Howard Cosell (1995); Loretta Claiborne (1996); Muhammad Ali (1997); Dean Smith (1998); Billie Jean King (1999); Dave Sanders (2000); Olympian Cathy Freeman (2001); Todd Beamer, Mark Bingham, Tom Burnett and Jeremy Glick, four passengers who lost their lives September 11 on United Flight 93 (2002); Pat and Kevin Tillman (2003); Liberian-born soccer legend George Weah (2004); disabled athletes Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah and Jim MacLaren (2005); Afghan female athletes (2006); and Trevor Ringland and Dave Cullen for their work with PeacePlayers (2007); U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos (2008); former president Nelson Mandela (2009); the Thomas family of Parkersburg, IA (2010); and boxer Dewey Bozella (2011).
The ESPYS The ESPYS gather 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. The 2012 ESPYS marks the shows 20th telecast and will recognize both sport-specific achievements, such as "Best MLB Player" and "Best WNBA Player," and best-in-sport winners, such as "Best Team" or "Best Female Athlete" that pit nominees from different sports against each other. The ESPYS honor ESPN's commitment to The V Foundation for Cancer Research, a partnership launched with the late Jim Valvano at the inaugural ESPYS in 1993.
Fans will determine the winners in all ESPY categories (except the Arthur Ashe Courage Award and other special awards) by voting online or on ESPN Mobile Web at ESPN.com/espys.
Sports fans can follow The 2012 ESPYS on Twitter @ESPYS and use the #ESPYS hashtag for live tweets during the show.