The 2018 ESPY Awards on Wednesday night brought together some of the most well-known names in sports, but the undeniable highlight of the evening had little to do with athletic performance.
The Arthur Ashe Courage Award was presented to 140 of the hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse by disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when they were acknowledged by the community. The group—which included Olympian Aly Raisman—came on stage to a standing ovation from the many athletes in the room.
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Raisman, Sarah Klein, and Tiffany Thomas Lopez took the mic to shed light on the horrors they endured and survived once the crowd settled down.
“The ripple effect of our actions, or inactions, can be enormous, spanning generations. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this nightmare is that it could have been avoided,” Raisman said. “Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world that we live in. Impacting others. All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar.”
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Heartbreakingly, she added, “If just one adult had listened, believed, and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never have met him.”
“We may suffer alone,” Raisman concluded. “But we survive together.”
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The audience, as well as presenter Jennifer Garner, were moved.
“Seeing these heroes in one place, on one stage blew me away—it takes such courage and strength to tell their stories,” she wrote on Instagram after the fact. “Sunlight is the best antiseptic—thank you to the survivors, to Jimmy Pitaro and to @abcnetwork & @espn for putting sexual abuse of minors in the sun—hopefully we won’t be telling this story again.”