July 8, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Women's Basketball Head Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt, who coached the Lady Vols during the 2011-12 season despite being diagnosed last August with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type, will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award this week at the 2012 ESPYs in Los Angeles.
Summitt will be presented the award at ESPN's annual show, set for Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern time. ESPN/ESPNHD will televise the event live from the Nokia Theatre at L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles with actor/comedian Rob Riggle serving as host. Sports fans also can follow the 2012 ESPYS on Twitter @ESPYS and use the #ESPYS hashtag for live tweets during the show.
The all-time winningest coach in NCAA men's or women's basketball with 1,098 victories, Summitt stepped away from head coaching duties in April after 38 seasons. She led the Lady Vols to eight national championships, 13 NCAA Final Fours and a combined 32 SEC regular season and tournament titles during that time before handing over her whistle to long-time assistant and former Lady Vol All-American Holly Warlick.
"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," Summitt said in a statement announcing the honor. "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."
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is presented to individuals whose contributions transcend sports. Boxer Dewey Bozella, who was imprisoned 26 years for a murder he didn't commit, before being released in 2009, was the recipient of the 2011 award.
"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," ESPN executive vice president of programming and acquisitions Norby Williamson said.
"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.