Caitlyn Jenner honored, Chicago stars shine bright at ESPYS

Cheryl Burton Image
Thursday, July 16, 2015
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The ESPY Awards honored courage and achievement in sports, including special awards and tributes to Caitlyn Jenner, Danielle Green, Lauren Hill and Devon and Leah Still.

LOS ANGELES (WLS) -- Chicago sports stars shined a little extra bright at the 2015 ESPY Awards Wednesday night.

The ESPYS are about more than just what happens at a sports arena; they are also about the extraordinary power of the human spirit. Tonight, it was all about heroes and champions, and about how amazing moments can become lessons and life-changing messages of hope and inspiration.

Perhaps the most emotional moment of the night came when Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

WATCH: Caitlyn Jenner accepts Arthur Ashe Award for Courage

Jenner's good friend Diane Sawyer conducted the groundbreaking interview with the Olympic gold medalist.

"I was there at the Olympic podium and I will be there tonight," Sawyer said on the red carpet. "What a moment."


Chicago native and Notre Dame basketball standout Danielle Green was given the Pat Tillman Award for Service. The honor is given to those who embody a selfless spirit and service in the face of adversity.

Green lost her left arm while serving in Iraq for the U.S. Army in 2004.

"It's an honor that Marie found my story worthy enough to be mentioned with Pat Tillman," she said on the red carpet. "He's a legend. So I feel I will forever be a part of Pat Tillman's legacy."

"Danielle's story, you just see her spirit and her drive, and her perseverance over a difficult situation and it really spoke to us," said Marie Tillman, Pat's widow. "It's how Pat lived his life and we're so happy to share her story tonight."


There were also tributes to ESPN anchor Stuart Scott and Greendale, Ind., native Lauren Hill, who was also awarded the ESPY for Best Moment.

WATCH: Lauren Hill honored

There was also a very special moment when Cincinnati Bengals lineman Devon Still and his daughter, 5-year-old Leah, accepted the Jimmy V Award for their courageous battle with cancer.

WATCH: Devon Still accepts Jimmy V Award


"It feels great," to have resigned with the team, Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler told ABC 7's Cheryl Burton. "All the work I put into this game, my craft, it feels good to be rewarded. And it couldn't happen in a better city."

Butler's teammate Derrick Rose is up for comeback award Wednesday night. Butler has some new achievements to crow about as well, having just made basketball's Team USA. That means he could be playing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"It's exciting," he said. "I gotta continue to work, hope to make that roster and make some things happen. That's another dream, another notch in my career that I need to have happen."

And who was Butler hoping to meet tonight?

"Serena Williams. I think she's- I look up to her, what she does for the sport of tennis as a whole, how hard she plays, that's somebody that everybody can take after in their respective sport," Butler said.


There was a showdown between Steph Curry and LeBron James for Best Male Athlete, between Serena Williams and Lindsey Vonna for Best Female Athlete, the World Cup-winning U.S. Women's Soccer Team and dozens of other stars from the sports and entertainment worlds.

PHOTOS: ESPY Awards Red Carpet Arrivals

A host of Chicagoans were nominated for awards, including Great Niemanus for Female Athlete with a Disability and Chicago Bulls star Dereck Rose for Greatest Comeback. The world champion Chicago Blackhawks team and several players were nominated as well.

Chicago did not take home a lot of awards, but as one of the athletes said, on one of the greatest nights in sports it's an honored just to be nominated.

Click for the full list of ESPY nominees and winners